The opening was not disorderly and the "rush" did not
come until every man present realized that those who had
manipulated the Northern Pacific "corner" were
determined to exact every
farthing that was coming to them, no matter what the
consequences, and regardless of any rumors to the effect
that private terms might be made.
The expectant and anxious crowd had not long to wait.
And when they came to understand their position fully
pandemonium reigned. The floor was in a panic, and the
corridors outside caught up the spirit of the occasion.
But it was on the floor that scenes almost without
precedent were enacted, and incidents that at other
times would have called for the expulsion of members
occurred without the slightest protest. As one broker
put it to a reporter for The New York Times: "The thing
was so sudden that conservative men lost their heads,
and language was heard from reputable church going
members of society that would not bear repetition under
ordinary circumstances in a barroom of even the second
Men climbed over each other to buy and to sell. They
fought desperately, and at 3 o'clock, when the day was
done, they relaxed only because of sheer exhaustion.
For the first time in the history of the Stock Exchange
the galleries were closed to visitors, even the
reporters being shut out after 2 o'clock in the
afternoon. This was a necessity. It seemed for a time as
if a large part of the population of Manhattan Island
had flocked to lower Broadway for the purpose of
witnessing the commercial combat between two factions,
each of which was determined to secure control of
Northern Pacific, and neither of which was willing to
throw a single share into the market that the general
public might be relieved.
The Stock Exchange, as is known, has temporary quarters
in the Produce Exchange Building, and it was on this
account that the galleries were closed. Tenants began to
complain as early as soon that they found ingress and
egress difficult. The order had already gone forth that
none but members or their clerks should be admitted to
the anteroom which is simply outside the railing of the
floor of the Stock Exchange. This naturally caused a
congestion in the gallery of the Produce Exchange, and
the elevators are said to have carried as many
passengers between 11 and 11 o'clock as they usually
carry during an entire day. The order to close the
galleries caused a block which could hardly be broken in
the corridors, and finally these had to be cleared.
Young Men's Panic
Meantime there was no surcease of excitement on the
floor of the Exchange, Young brokers, flushed with the
excitement kindled by their first battle royal, led the
van, and it was stated at the close that had they not
lost their heads values would not have fallen as rapidly
as they did. The representative of one of the largest
Stock Exchange houses in the city, an old stager,
declared, after what he confessed was the hardest day's
work he ever experienced, that he knew of instances
where securities sold for less than the amount offered
for them, simply because before a bid could be accepted
some callow youth would rush in and throw them on the
market at a lower price.
Bargain hunters were everywhere, and they were about
the noisiest coterie of a deafening crew. Their brokers
could easily be spotted. They were on the lookout for
securities which were going at a sacrifice, and they
were undoubtedly able to clean up hundreds of thousands
of dollars by reason of the distress of their fellows.
In the thick of the fight was to be seen Louis Wormser.
Not interested to any large extent. If at all, in
Northern Pacific, he was there for the purpose of
covering as much of his short interests as he could at
good profits, and the story goes that he succeeded. At a
time like this stocks wholly unconnected with the
principal stake that is being played for are thrown on
the market by their owners, who must have money to make
good contracts, and naturally a panic is the harvest
time of the bargain hunter, who is able to pay spot
Sam Walsh was another who took advantage of a situation
in the manipulation of which he probably had no part.
Mr. Walsh was a ready and at times an excited buyer of
stocks, and the story goes that he covered securities in
which his firm had probably been short for a long time.
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