History of America’s One Percent – Episode #21

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 III, Chapter III:  The Beginnings of the Vanderbilt Fortune.  Vanderbilt’s Monumental Fortune of $105,000,000.  Most of His Wealth Amassed in His Last 15 Years.  Wealth as Power.  The Dynasty’s Holdings at the Turn of the 20th Century: $600M in Stocks & $700M in Bonds.  Their Interests in Banks, Railroad, and Corporations.  The American Industrialists as Monarchs.  Kings Had No Proof of Divine Right, But Industrial Monarchs Have Stocks and Bonds.  Armed Garrisons Not Required to Secure the Possessions in Their Vast Empires.  Government As the Armed Forces of Big Business. The Vanderbilt Patriarch: Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt.  His Humble Beginnings in the Sailing Trade.  He enter the Steamboat Business in 1829.  Cutting Rates to Bankrupt Competitors.  Public Applauds His Rate Cuts As Great Benefit.  Rates Hiked Once Monopoly Is Obtained.  His Methods in Driving Out Competitors: Bribing the New York Common Council.

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Click Here for a complete list of episodes in this podcast.
You can also stream the episodes from Archive.org
For more information on the author of this book Click Here.


[1] The “New York Commercial,” an ultra-conservative financial and commercial publication, estimated in January, 1905, his annual income to be $72,000,000. Of course, as already explained, incomes in recent years have been sharply and increasingly limited by the income tax. The only year in which definite and official information was publicly furnished as to incomes was (as already stated) in 1925. The Rockefeller wealth was then represented by John D. Rockefeller Jr., who headed the list of large income taxpayers in that year with a payment of $6,277,669. Henry Ford and his son Edsel came next with total payments together of $4,766,861. And next came Andrew W. Mellon whose income tax payment was $1,882,609.

[2] “Who Owns the United States?” —The Forum Magazine, November, 1889.

[3] Some glimpses of Vanderbilt’s activities and methods in his early career are obtainable from the court records. In 1827 he was fined two penalties of $50 for refusing to move a steamboat called “The Thistle,” commanded by him, from a wharf on the North River in order to give berth to “The Legislature,” a competing steamboat. His defence was that Adams, the harbor master, had no authority to compel him to move. The lower courts decided against him, and the Supreme Court, on appeal, affirmed their judgment. (Adams vs. Vanderbilt. Cowen’s Reports. Cases in Supreme Court of the State of New York, vii:349-353.)
In 1841 the Eagle Iron Works sued Vanderbilt for the sum of $2,957.15 which it claimed was due under a contract made by Vanderbilt on March 8, 1838. This contract called for the payment by Vanderbilt of $10,500 in three installments for the
building of an engine for the steamboat “Wave.” Vanderbilt paid $7,900, but refused to pay the remainder, on the ground that braces to the connecting rods were not supplied. These braces, it was brought out in court, cost only $75 or $100. The Supreme Court handed down a judgment against Vanderbilt. An appeal was taken by Vanderbilt, and Judge Nelson, in the Supreme Court, in October, 1841, affirmed that judgment. —Vanderbilt vs. Eagle Iron Works, Wendell’s Reports, Cases in the Supreme Court of the State of New York, xxv:665-668.

[4] Proceedings of the New York Board of Aldermen, xlviii:423-431.

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