History of America’s One Percent – Episode #9

hogaf-logo-wip2In this podcast series we dive into the long and shadowy history of America’s ruling elite through the works of authors who were either silenced, suppressed, or forgotten, to discover the origins of the 1% and from where their power and wealth was, and still is, extracted.

Each recording will be approx. 1 hour in length to allow for easy consumption of the material.  The narrator will only interrupt the reading to provide insight, spell names, read informative footnotes, or provide definitions for archaic words.

In this episode – Continued reading of History of Great American Fortunes by Gustavus Myers. Includes Part II, Chapter IV:  The Ramifications of the Astor Fortune.  Bankers – The Masters Of the Masters.  The Power of Banks To Manufacture Money.  The Constitution A Trifle For The Bankers.  Banknotes Ruled Not “Bills Of Credit”.  Bank of New York Injects Itself Into Politics.  Aaron Burr Secures Charter For Manhattan Company Under Suspicious Conditions.  The Manhattan Company: A Secret Bank.  Charter For Mercantile Bank Secured By Bribery. Bank of America Conceived In Flagrant Corruption.  Bribery and the Chemical Bank.  Bribery A Crime In Name Only.  Astor’s Banking Activities.  Corruption Blamed on Lobbyists.  Wildcat Currency.  Workingmen’s Party Protests.  Movement Betrayed By Its Leaders.  The Panic of 1837.

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[1] Hammond’s “Political History of the State of New York,” 1 : 129-130.

[2] Journal of the [New York] Senate and Assembly, 18o3 : 351 and 399.

[3] Ibid, 1812 : 134.

[4] Ibid., 1812 : 259-260.  Frequently, in those days, the giving of presents was a part of corrupt methods.

[5] “The members [of the Legislature] themselves sometimes participated in the benefits growing out of charters created by their own votes; … if ten banks were chartered at one session, twenty must be chartered the next, and thirty the next.  The cormorants could never be gorged. If at one session you bought off a pack of greedy lobby agents . . . they returned
with increased numbers and more voracious appetite.”— Hammond, ii : 447-448.

[6] Journal of the [New York] Senate, 1824: 1317-1350.  See also Chap. VIII, Part II of this work.

[7] ” Letter and Authentic Documentary Evidence in Relation to the Trinity Church Property,” etc., Albany, 1853. Hoffman, the best authority on the subject, says in his work published forty-five years ago: “Very extensive searches have proved unavailing to enable me to trace the sources of the title to much of this upper portion of Trinity Church property.” — “State and Rights of the Corporation of New York,” ii : 189.

[8] In all of the official communications of Trinity Church up to 1867 this lease is referred to as the “Burr or Astor Lease.” — “The Communication of the Rector, Church Wardens and Vestrymen of Trinity Church in the city of New York in reply to a resolution of the House, passed March 4, 1854”; Document No. 130, Assembly Docs. 1854.  Also Document No. 45, Senate Docs. 1856. Upon returning from exile Burr tried to break his lease to Astor, but the lease was so astutely drawn that the courts decided in Astor’s favor.

[9] In his descriptive work on New York City of a half century ago, Matthew Hale Smith, in “Sunshine and Shadow in New York” (pp. 121-122), tells this story: “The Morley [Mortier] lease was to run until 1867. Persons who took the leases supposed that they took them for the full term of the Trinity lease. [John Jacob] Astor was too far-sighted and too shrewd for that. Every lease expired in 1864, leaving him [William B. Astor, the founder’s heir] the reversion for three years, putting him in possession of all the buildings, and all of the improvements made on the lots, and giving him the right of renewal.” Smith’s account is faulty. Most of the leases expired in 1866. The value of the reversions was very large.

[10] Docs. No. 130 [New York] Assembly Docs., 1854 : 22-23.

[11] Journal of the [New York] Senate, Forty-second Session, 1819 : 67-70.

[12] Doc. No. 108, [New York] Senate Documents, 1834, Vol. ii.  The committee stated that banks in the State outside of New York City, after paying all expenses, divided 11 per cent, among the stockholders in 1833 and had on hand as surplus capital 16 per cent, on their capital. New York City banks paid larger dividends.

[13] People of the State of New York vs. Manhattan Co. — Doc. No. 62, Documents of the Board of Assistant Aldermen, 1832-33, Vol. ii.

[14] Doc. No. 68 [New York] Senate Docs., 1838, Vol. ii.

[14a] Abridgement of the Debates of Congress, from 1789 to 1856, xiii : 426-427.

[15] In the course of this work, the word Government is frequently used to signify not merely the functions of the National Government, but those of the totality of Government, State and municipal, not less than National.

[16] Doc. No. 49 [New York] Senate Docs., 1838, Vol. ii.

[16a] “On the Penitentiary System in the United States,” etc., by G. De Beaumont and A. De Tocqueville, Appendix 17, Statistical Notes : 244-245.

[17] A complete error. Walling, for more than thirty years Superintendent of Police of New York City, says in his “Memoirs” that he never knew an instance of a rich murderer who was hanged or otherwise executed. And have we all not noted likewise?

[18] “On the Penitentiary System,” etc., 184-185.

[19] Prison Association of New York, Annual Reports, 1844-46. It is characteristic of the origin of all of these charity associations, that many of the founders of this prison association were some of the very men who had profited by bribery and theft.  Horace Greeley was actuated by pure humanitarian motives, but such incorporators as Prosper Wetmore, Ulshoeffer, and others were, or had been, notorious in lobbying by bribing bank charters through the New York Legislature.

[20] “The New Yorker,” Feb. 17, 1838.

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