By Geoffrey C. Ward
Ferdinand Ward used to be the best swindler of the Gilded Age. via his unapologetic villainy, he bankrupted Ulysses S. provide and ran roughshod over the full international of finance. Now, his compelling, behind-the-scenes tale is told—told by way of his great-grandson, award-winning historian Geoffrey C. Ward.
Ward was once the Bernie Madoff of his day, a intended genius at making enormous funds speedy on Wall highway who became out to were operating an enormous pyramid scheme—one that finally 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 companion of the previous president of the us and used to be largely hailed because the “Young Napoleon of Finance.” truthfully, he became out to be an entire fraud, his complete lifestyles marked through dishonesty, cowardice, and contempt for whatever yet his personal interests.
Drawing from millions of relatives records by no means sooner than tested, Geoffrey C. Ward strains his great-grandfather’s fast upward push to riches and repute and his much more dizzying fall from grace. There are mistresses and mansions alongside the way in which; speedy horses and crooked bankers and corrupt manhattan officers; court confrontations and 6 years in Sing Sing; and Ferdinand’s determined scheme to kidnap his personal son to get his arms at the property his overdue spouse had left the boy. here's a nice tale a few vintage American con artist, informed with boundless attraction and dry wit by way of considered one of our best historians.
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Extra 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
He wishes earnest caution in that path. … As to F. , we needs to take him as he's. He has peculiarities of disposition & demeanour that we'd want have been diverse. With those we needs to try to wait and see. i feel that mom has made up her brain to not discover his dolorous letters. he's not powerful & comes domestic bored with direction (8 AM to six PM) & then sits down & pens what he regrets after. I had a letter from Mr. provide which was once complimentary of F. during this, that there are issues he on my own can do & as a result he can’t half with him greater than 4 days. As style a letter as a businessman may be anticipated to put in writing. I accept as true with you in this—if F desires to keep his place he needs to remain correct through. permit a ready guy (& they're “legion”) take his position for every week & F is “nowhere” afterwards. If F. will get married to overlook G he might be much more independent—not now. you've been a great … and beneficiant brother to F. & he feels it yet is from time to time too high-strung to claim so. Now, keep it up sturdy phrases. don't enable a wall upward thrust among you. See the vegetables frequently. God bless you, expensive boy. 26 Jane persevered to ship tests to hide Ferd’s debts, and supplied new “loans” every time he requested for them. in the end, she informed Will, “he continues to be the newborn, you recognize. ”27 Then, in March 1877, with the marriage day simply weeks away, there has been extra hassle. Investments Ferd had made for himself and his potential partner's father obviously went bitter. Ella’s father complained approximately Ferd’s unsteady nature and undesirable suggestion, and stated he was once tempted to name off the wedding. “I don't have any doubt that Mr. G. has misplaced massive cash of late,” Jane informed Will, “which may possibly make him suspicious and maybe crusty and scared of every person. ” She persevered, will probably be top, i believe, to allow every little thing form itself and never try any association for [Ferd and Ella]. in the event that they are to be married will probably be all led to by way of a [Power] wiser than we and if no longer, we needs to worry lest … we be chanced on “fighting opposed to God. ” … i glance for a bit clarification of the sentence on your final “How a lot this failure of F’s could have to do with Mr. G’s switch of [heart]” &c &c. I tremble lest the relatives admit any flooring of suspicion opposed to him. i feel he particularly ability and hopes to be successful while he begins. yet hazards are so precarious these days that not anyone is secure. … while F does come to you to speak over concerns try and sympathize tenderly along with his current place. it truly is very making an attempt and if he [has] introduced it upon himself it's all the extra miserable and difficult to undergo. all of us want sympathy in our mess ups in addition to in our successes. 28 finally, the engagement used to be now not ended—but the marriage was once postponed back, this time to the autumn. Then, a few months prior to the rite used to be scheduled to happen, Ferd without notice had cash with which to hide all his accounts again domestic, start paying $30 a month for a good-looking gold watch and chain for himself, and purchase his bride glittering marriage ceremony presents, together with a pearl necklace and a diamond pass that fee $350—$7,400 in today’s phrases.