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 international of finance. Now, his compelling, behind-the-scenes tale is told—told via his great-grandson, award-winning historian Geoffrey C. Ward.
Ward used to be the Bernie Madoff of his day, a meant genius at making sizeable funds speedy on Wall road who grew to become out to were operating a huge 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 long island at twenty-one and in lower than a decade, armed with appeal, strength, and a complete loss of sense of right and wrong, made himself the enterprise accomplice of the previous president of the USA and was once generally hailed because the “Young Napoleon of Finance.” truthfully, he became out to be a whole fraud, his complete existence marked through dishonesty, cowardice, and contempt for something yet his personal interests.
Drawing from millions of kin files by no means earlier than tested, Geoffrey C. Ward lines his great-grandfather’s fast upward push to riches and popularity 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 couple of vintage American con artist, advised with boundless appeal and dry wit through one among our most interesting historians.
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Additional info for 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
The legislations required that he pay for them with qualified assessments. yet Grant—who could finally make investments a minimum of $320,000 of his personal funds in furnish & Ward’s intended contracts ($7,220,000 today)—made Ferd’s purchases as painless as attainable. He used to be allowed to pay each one invoice with a number of Marine financial institution tests qualified by means of Fish, a few of which might then be deposited again into the Marine financial institution. He did so seven occasions among January 1 and March 29, 1884, for a complete of $954,000. whilst different traders became up at Grant’s place of work attracted to purchasing bonds, the comptroller’s subordinates have been advised to inform them they might need to visit provide & Ward’s to make their purchases. The comptroller’s deputy might at some point be requested no matter if rival would-be dealers had ever complained. they'd, he stated: “They were shoppers many years [and] inspiration it really difficult to show them off and ship them to agents’ workplaces. ”6 Ferd consistently did his pleased most sensible to make power buyers welcome at 2 Wall highway. inspite of the collusion of the city’s most sensible monetary officers, Ferd stumbled on it an increasing number of tough to meet collectors like William Warner who insisted he make sturdy on his gaudy pledges, on time and in complete. whilst Ferd and Warner started their murky after-hours transactions, Ferd were firmly accountable and Warner easily thankful to be making such outstanding returns on money borrowed from his associates. yet because the months glided by, their positions had slowly reversed. Ferd wanted an increasing number of cash to stick prior to his traders and was once compelled to vow progressively more to get it. It now took simply twenty days for a $20,000 funding to develop to $36,000; $433,000 turned $519,000 in just thirty days; a month after that observed $450,000 turn into $540,000. furnish & Ward’s stability used to be so erratic that Ferd usually didn't have the money available to make reliable on Warner’s biggest investments. at any time when that occurred, he now provided a brand new association: to maintain Warner from tough his cash, he could warrantly supply of the matured critical by means of a brand new date yet might additionally pay Warner 20 percentage monthly additionally. On a unmarried personal loan of $640,000 that will no longer mature until eventually October 1884, for instance, Ferd needed to locate $125,000 each thirty days to meet Warner and his acquaintances. Warner, no longer Ward, was once now answerable for their courting. via the tip of March, either Ferd and Fish have been feeling determined. “If this is going in this way,” Fish informed Ferd, “the scenario won't basically be critical yet risky. ”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 solely 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 leisure there could restoration his wellbeing and fitness. whereas he was once long past, Ferd back 4 instances to the comptroller’s workplace. He received a complete of $2. five million in profit bonds in the course of these visits—and, with Grant’s approval, town of latest York deposited one million extra cash within the Marine financial institution in 4 installments, every one deposit made at the related day the bonds replaced fingers.