History of America’s One Percent – Episode #10

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 V:  The Momentum of the Astor Fortune.  Astor Profits Handsomely During Panic of 1837.  The Massive Influx Of Immigrants Into New York City.  Astor Evades Property Assessments.  Rich Families Remove To Other States To Avoid Taxes.  Swaying Public Opinion.  Funds To Churches, Newspapers, Colleges, Politicians, and Judges.  Property Qualifications For Suffrage Dissolve.  Voting By Workers A Threat To Wealthy.  Corrupting The Vote.  Repeaters, Dilution, and Purchasing of Votes.  Both Political Parties Dominated By Wealthy Interests.  Astor’s Towering Fortune Eclipses All Others.  The Death Of John Jacob Astor.

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[1] “Reminiscences of John Jacob Astor,” New York “Herald,” March 31, 1848.

[2] Doc. No. 24, Proceedings of the [New York City] Board of Assistant Aldermen, xxix. The Merchant’s Bank, for instance,
was assessed in 1833 at $6,000; it had cost that sum twenty years before and in 1833 was worth three times as much.

[3] Proceedings of the [New York City] Board of Assistant Aldermen, xxix, Doc. No. 18.

[4] Many eminent lawyers, elected or appointed to high official or judicial office, were financially interested in corporations, and very often profited in dubious ways. The case of Roger B. Taney, who, from 1836, was for many years, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, is a conspicuous example. After he was appointed United States Secretary of the Treasury in 1833, the United States Senate passed a resolution inquiring of him whether he were not a stockholder in the Union Bank of Maryland, in which bank he had ordered public funds deposited. He admitted that he was, but asserted that he had obtained the stock before he had selected that bank as a depository of public funds. (See Senate Docs., First Session, 23rd Congress, Vol. iii, Doc. No. 238.) It was Taney, who as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, handed down the decision, in the Dred Scott case, that negro slaves, under the United States Constitution, were not eligible to citizenship and were without civil rights.

[5] These frauds at the polls went on, not only in every State but even in such newly-organized Territories as New Mexico. Many facts were brought out by contestants before committees of Congress. (See “Contested Elections,” 1834 to 1865, Second Session, 38th Congress, 1864-65, Vol. v, Doc. No. 57.) In the case of Monroe vs. Jackson, in 1848, James Monroe claimed that his opponent was illegally elected by the votes of convicts and other non-voters brought over from Blackwell’s Island. The majority of the House Elections Committee reported favoring Monroe’s being seated. Aldermanic documents tell likewise of the same state of affairs in New York. (See the author’s “History of Tammany Hall.”) Similar practices were common in Philadelphia, Baltimore and other cities, and in country townships.

[6] “The Wealth and Biography of the Wealthy Citizens of the City of New York.” By Moses Yale Beach.

[7] ” Wealth and Biography of the Wealthy Citizens of Philadelphia.” By a Member of the Philadelphia Bar, 1845.
The misconception which often exists even among those who profess the deepest scholarship and the most certainty of opinion as to the development of men of great wealth was instanced by a misstatement of Dr. Felix Adler, leader of the New York Society for Ethical Culture. In an address on “Anti-Democratic Tendencies in American Life” delivered some years ago, Dr. Adler asserted : “Before the Civil War there were three millionaires; now there are 4,000.” The error of this assertion is evident.

[8] Parton’s “Life of John Jacob Astor” : 8o-81.

[9] Proceedings of the Board of Assistant Aldermen, xxix, Doc. No. 24.  This poverty was the consequence, not of any one phase of the existing system, nor of the growth of any one fortune, but resulted from the whole industrial system. The chief form of the exploitation of the worker was that of his capacity as a producer: other forms completed the process. A considerable number of the paupers were immigrants, who, fleeing from exploitation at home, were kept in poverty in America, “the land of boundless resources.” The statement often made that there were no tramps in the United States before the Civil War is wholly incorrect.

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