History of America’s One Percent – Episode #24

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 IV:  The Onrush of the Vanderbilt Fortune, continued.  No Criminal Charges for Vanderbilt.  Congress Pathetically Offers Up a Resolution Censuring Him and Others.  Vanderbilt Exerts Political Influence to Have His Name Removed From the Resolution.  Vanderbilt Expunged, His Agent Southard Takes the Fall.  New Unbelievable Lows of Fraud: Afflicted Horses “Doctored Up” and Sold to the Cavalry.  Vanderbilt Begins Buying Stock in the New York and Harlem Railroad.  New York and Harlem Franchise Obtained Through Bribery.  The Atrocious Safety Records of the Railroads.  Corporations Not Responsible for Loss of Life: Transportation Accidents as a Means to Drive Down Stock Prices. Vanderbilt Bribes the Common Council for a Perpetual Franchise.  George Law and Vanderbilt’s Bribery Battle for Control of the Broadway Line.  Law Bribes the State Legislature, Vanderbilt Bribes the Common Council.  The City Aldermen Hatch a Scheme to Fleece Vanderbilt.  They Give Vanderbilt a Franchise That Will Not Pass Legal Scrutiny.  The Aldermen Secretly Short the New York and Harlem Stock.  The Outcome of This Plot.  He Grasps Up a Second Railroad: The New York and Hudson Line.  He Attempts to Consolidate the Two Railroads Through Legislative Act.  Another Plot Against Vanderbilt.  His Acquisition of the New York Central Railroad.  The Public Suffers So Stock Prices Can Be Depressed.  Vanderbilt Outmatches Cunard, Astor, Steward and Others.

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PART III, CHAPTER IV – FOOTNOTES, cont’d.

[10] One of the grossest and most prevalent forms of fraud was that of selling doctored-up horses to the Union army. Important cavalry movements were often delayed and jeoparded by this kind of fraud. In passing upon the suit of one of these horse contractors against the Government (Daniel Wormser vs. United States) for payment for horses supplied, in 1S64, for cavalry use, the Supreme Court of the United States confirmed the charge made by the Government horse inspectors that the plaintiff had been guilty of fraud, and dismissed the case. “The Government,” said Justice Bradley in the court’s decision, “clearly had the right to proscribe regulations for the inspection of horses, and there was great need for strictness in this regard, for frauds were constantly perpetrated. … It is well known that horses may be prepared and fixed up to appear bright and smart for a few hours.” —Court of Claims Reports, vii: 257-262.

[11] “The History of Tammany Hall”: 117.

[12] Report of the Special Committee on Railroads of the New York State Assembly, 1879, i: 7.

[13] See presentment of Grand Jury of February 26, 1853, and accompanying testimony, Documents of the (New York) Board of Aldermen, Doc. No. XXI, Part II, No. 55.

[14] Ibid., 1333-1335.

[15] See “The History of Public Franchises in New York City”: 120-125.

[16] The business rivalry between Vanderbilt and Law was intensified by the deepest personal enmity on Law’s part. As one of the chief owners of the United States Mail Steamship Company, Law was extremely bitter on the score of Vanderbilt’s having been able to blackmail him and Roberts so heavily and successfully.

[17] “The Vanderbilts,” etc: 75.

[18] Even Croffut, Vanderbilt’s foremost eulogist, cynically grows merry over Vanderbilt’s methods which he thus summarizes: “(1) Buy your railroad; (2) stop the stealing that went on under the other man; (3) improve the road in every practicable way within a reasonable expenditure; (4) consolidate it with any other road that can be run with it economically; (5) water its stock; (6) make it pay a large dividend.”

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