History of America’s One Percent – Episode #11

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 VI:  The Propulsion of the Astor Fortune.  John Jacob Astor Leaves Behind $20 Million.  The Lifestyle of his heir, William B. Astor.  An Endless Chain of Corruption.  Astor’s Investments in the New York Central Railroad.  Toe To Toe With Commodore Vanderbilt.  Vanderbilt Proves Himself The Master Of Corruption.  Astor, Boss Tweed, and Tammany Hall.  Astor On Committee To Investigate His Cronies.  $60,000,000 Swindle – Viaduct Railroad.  Connections to Elihu Root.  Astor’s Enormous Rents From Tenement Houses.  The Deadly Conditions Of These Tenements.  Humanity Of No Consequence.  Tenement Houses Owned By Churches.  William B. Astor Leaves Behind $100,000,000.

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[1] Matthew Hale Smith in “Sunshine and Shadow in New York,” 186-187.

[2] See Part III of this work, “The Great Railroad Fortunes.”

[3] See Part III, Chapters IV, V, VI, etc.

[4] Proceedings of the [New York City] Commissioners of the Sinking Fund, 1844-1865 : 213.

[5] Doc. No. 46, Documents of the [New York City] Board of Aldermen, xxi, Part II.

[6] Proceedings of the [New York City] Commissioners of the Sinking Fund, 1844-1865 : 734.

[7] Ibid : 865.

[8] Proceedings of the [New York City] Sinking Fund Commission, 1882 : 2020-2023.

[9] Documents of the [New York City] Board of Aldermen, 1877, Part II, No. 8.

[10] New York Senate Journal, 1871 : 482-83.

[11] See Exhibits Doc. No. 8, Documents of the [New York City] Board of Aldermen, 1877.

[12] For a full account of the operations of the Tweed regime see the author’s “History of Tammany Hall.”

[13] Report of the Metropolitan Board of Health for 1866, Appendix A : 38.

[14] “America’s Successful Men of Affairs” : 36.

[15] “No church disdained his gifts.” The morals and methods of the church, as exemplified by Trinity Church, were, judged by standards, much worse than those of Astor or of his fellow-landlords or capitalists. These latter did not make a profession of hypocrisy, at any rate. The condition of the tenements owned by Trinity Church was as shocking as could be found anywhere in New York City. We subjoin the testimony given by George C. Booth of the Society for the Improvement of the Condition of the Poor before a Senate Investigating Committee in 1885 :
Senator Plunkett:  Ask him if there is not a great deal of church influence [in politics].
The Witness:  Yes, sir. there is Trinity Church.
Q. :  Which is the good, and which is the bad?
A. :  I think Trinity is the bad.
Q. :  Do the Trinity people own a great deal of tenement property?
A. :  Yes, sir.
Q. :  Do they comply with the law as other people do?
A. :  No, sir; that is accounted for in one way — the property is very old and rickety, and perhaps even rotten, so that some allowance must be made on that account. (Investigation of the Departments of the City of New York, by Special Committee of the [New York] Senate, 1885. 1 : 193-194.)

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