A Disposition to Be Rich: How a Small-Town Pastor's Son Ruined an American President, Brought on a Wall Street Crash, and Made Himself the Best-Hated Man in the United States

By Geoffrey C. Ward

Ferdinand Ward used to be the best swindler of the Gilded Age. via his unapologetic villainy, he bankrupted Ulysses S. supply and ran roughshod over the complete global of finance. Now, his compelling, behind-the-scenes tale is told—told through his great-grandson, award-winning historian Geoffrey C. Ward.

Ward used to be the Bernie Madoff of his day, a intended genius at making tremendous funds quickly on Wall road who became out to were working an incredible pyramid scheme—one that eventually collapsed in a single of the best monetary scandals in American heritage. The son of a Protestant missionary and small-town pastor with secrets and techniques of his personal to maintain, Ward got here to big apple at twenty-one and in below a decade, armed with attraction, power, and a complete loss of moral sense, made himself the company associate of the previous president of the USA and was once largely hailed because the “Young Napoleon of Finance.” truthfully, he became out to be an entire fraud, his complete existence marked by means of dishonesty, cowardice, and contempt for whatever yet his personal interests.

Drawing from millions of kinfolk records by no means sooner than tested, Geoffrey C. Ward strains his great-grandfather’s swift upward push to riches and reputation and his much more dizzying fall from grace. There are mistresses and mansions alongside the best way; quickly horses and crooked bankers and corrupt long island officers; court confrontations and 6 years in Sing Sing; and Ferdinand’s determined scheme to kidnap his personal son to get his palms at the property his past due spouse had left the boy. here's a nice tale a few vintage American con artist, informed with boundless allure and dry wit by way of one among our most interesting historians.

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By way of the top of March, either Ferd and Fish have been feeling determined. “If this is going in this way,” Fish informed Ferd, “the scenario won't purely be critical yet harmful. ”7 4 days later, he wrote to Ferd back. “Do you recognize that your account is overdrawn $80,000 this morning? Our affairs appear to be drifting fullyyt past my knowing or comprehension. ”8 Then, Chamberlain Tappan suffered a middle assault. His medical professionals instructed him to sail for Bermuda to determine if a month’s relaxation there may repair his future health. whereas he used to be long past, Ferd back 4 instances to the comptroller’s place of work. He acquired a complete of $2. five million in profit bonds in the course of these visits—and, with Grant’s approval, the town of latest York deposited 1000000 extra cash within the Marine financial institution in 4 installments, every one deposit made at the comparable day the bonds replaced arms. by means of April 25, because of Comptroller furnish and with the acquiescence of the absent Tappan, furnish & Ward was once capable of borrow opposed to a few $6 million worthy of municipal bonds and the Marine financial institution was once keeping $1. 6 million in urban cash ($36,100,000 today). This used to be greater than two times up to the other depository within the city—so even more that Isaac S. Barrett, a veteran clerk within the comptroller’s place of work who had a number of occasions expressed quandary in regards to the growing to be imbalance, ultimately felt forced to intrude. “There’s no need conversing, Mr. Grant,” he instructed his boss. “There is altogether an excessive amount of funds in that financial institution. ”9 furnish reluctantly agreed. humans have been commencing to ask why the town preferred one financial institution and one brokerage condo over the entire relaxation, and he had no prepared solution. Municipal funds—and his personal reputation—were in danger. whatever needed to be performed. J. Nelson Tappan lower back from Bermuda days later. He was once nonetheless so susceptible that he needed to be carried off the send. His deputy (and brokerage associate) F. W. Gilley, who met him on the dock, remembered that Tappan “expressed no shock” on the volume of urban cash within the financial institution of which he was once a director. yet no longer lengthy after he was once placed to mattress at his domestic on Lexington road, Comptroller supply bought notice to him that there has been severe difficulty, and that the Marine Bank’s holdings needed to be reduced—and quick. On Thursday, may perhaps 1, the town withdrew $300,000. the next day to come, Friday the second, Fish bought a moment letter from the chamberlain’s workplace, signed by way of Deputy Chamberlain Richard W. Montgomery on behalf of his unwell boss. Mr. Tappan reveals it beneficial … to attract at the Marine financial institution an extra $300,000, and we have now notified them of the draft for that quantity on Monday [May 5], to come back throughout the Clearing condominium Tuesday A. M. † We remorse the need, and if unforeseen receipts should still give the chance to decrease the draft can be happy to take action. because the account of receipts and funds now stands, the draft is unavoidable. 10 a number of million money in provide & Ward loans have been to return due on Monday. Ferd’s skill to proceed drawing at the Marine financial institution now represented the variation among lifestyles and dying for the company, which have been overdrawn among $80,000 and $115,000 approximately each day for the former weeks.

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