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and Wall Street Operators 1869
After Vanderbilt, whose portrait has been given elsewhere, Daniel Drew is the most prominent figure in the banking quarter, and perhaps the most reckless. Though now in his seventy-second year, he is as energetic, persevering, shrewd (and unscrupulous, his enemies would add), as he was in the prime of life. He gives no sign of physical or mental failure, notwithstanding his constant activity and the perpetual strain upon his brain and nerves.
Drew was born on a small farm in Carmel, Putnam county, and received a very limited education. He learned to read, write, and cipher while working on he sterile land his father owned; but beyond that cared very little for books. At fifteen he lost his father, and at once determined to set up in life for himself, a step he was qualified for by his force of will, strength of character, and natural astuteness, very remarkable in one so young. He began by driving cattle to market and selling them, first in a small way, but gradually increasing his trade until it grew to be of considerable value. For sixteen or seventeen years he was a cattle-drover; but, after he had reached thirty-two, he moved to this City, and established a depot for their sale, sending agents to the country to purchase stock. He gained money rapidly, and, in 1834, made an investment, with others, in a steamboat, which resulted in a great interest in the transportation of passengers on the Hudson River.
Drew's line was so ably managed that it became popular, though it entered into competition with the lines owned by Vanderbilt and others. The rivalry was very sharp for a long while, the steamers, at one time, carrying passengers from here to Albany at a shilling apiece. Drew was a large stockholder in the company formed by Isaac Newton, in 1840, which was the origin of the People's Line. He refused to dispose of his vessels when the Hudson River Railway was completed, though his friends advised him to, declaring he would be ruined if he did not. The road increased the patronage of the boats, as he had foreseen, and to this day, they are most desirable property. The Drew, finished year before last, is the finest steamboat that floats on any interior waters. She is more elaborate and gorgeous even than the famed Bristol and Providence, running between New York and Boston.
For ten or twelve years Drew was a banker and stock broker, having formed a partnership with Nelson Taylor and his son-in-law. He has been a daring and active operator in Wall street ever since, and is the most formidable opponent Vanderbilt has had. He lost $500,000 in the famous Harlem corner some years ago; but he is not likely to be caught so again. He has long been a heavy stockholder in Erie and other prominent roads, and he plays bull and bear, and sells short and long, as his interest demands, quite confounding those who don't understand his multifarious shifts.
Drew's foes accuse him of numerous "irregular" transactions; but he claims that he does nothing that the Stock Exchange and Wall street morals do not sanction. He has a wide reputation for charity, having founded the Drew Theological Seminary at Morris, N. J., by giving it half a million of dollars, and having contributed to various religious and educational institutions. Drew is in no way noticeable in face or figure. He is six feet high, slender, with limbs loosely put together, and rather awkward in his movements. He has a rustic appearance, is careless in his dress, and unconventional in his manners.
David Groesbeck, of the firm of David Groesbeck & Co., the well-known bankers in Broad street, is, like Drew, wholly self-made. He was born in Albany county; had a hard struggle with fortune; picked up a slender education, was apprenticed to a shoemaker, went to the capital afterward, and was clerk in a policy office. Failing to be satisfied there, he came to New York, where he soon evinced such remarkable capacity for business that he attracted the attention of Jacob Little, so long the great bear of Wall street. He went into Little's office, and rose from one position to another, until he became the eminent banker's confidential clerk. He showed such remarkable financial ability that his employer advised him to go into business for himself, and lent him money for the purpose. For years Groesbeck has been a banker, and though he has failed several times, he has always preserved his reputation for honor, and his house is today one of the wealthiest in the City. He is not a reckless speculator; but he buys and sells stocks, and lends money on them; some of his operations being immense. Last year he is reputed to have made $2,000,000, and his private fortune is estimated at $10,000,000. He is about fifty-two, tall, dark, and looks like an anxious, overworked man. He is liberal to a fault, and does many generous acts, of which few ever hear.
Jay Cooke is known everywhere as the agent of the Government during the issue of the 7-30 and 5-20 bonds. By that loan he made a vast fortune, and is now one of great bankers of Wall street. He is a native of Ohio, having been born in Portland, now Sandusky, in the Summer of 1821. His father was a member of Congress (this is not mentioned to cast any discredit on the banker, but merely as a fact for which he can not be held responsible), and having the name of Eleutheros, which nobody could pronounce or spell properly, he determined to give his children short names. So the future financier was called Jay.
The elder Cooke having suffered some adversity, and his son finding it out, determined to help himself. So he went to the store of an acquaintance in town, and without the consent or knowledge of his parents got a situation as clerk. He proved himself excellently qualified for business, and after acting as book-keeper and salesman in St. Louis and Philadelphia, he went, in his seventeenth year, into the banking house of E.W. Clark & Co. (in the latter city), of which he was afterward a partner. Remaining in the firm twenty years, he retired, and in the early part of 1861 opened a banking establishment of his own with his brother-in law, Wm. G. Moorhead, under the name of Jay Cooke & Co. The financial ability of the new firm, displayed in negotiating different loans, attracted the attention of the Government. Secretary Chase made Cooke & Co. the agents in Philadelphia for the three series of 7-30, and also special agents of the $500,000,000 5-20 loan.
The risk was great, and large capital was required, but when it is remembered that 5/8 of one per cent. was paid, on the whole amount, the profit will be seen to have been handsome. The firm made several millions, and Cooke himself, now doing business at the corner of Wall and Nassau streets, is supposed to be worth $15,000,000 to $20,000,000. Cooke is very fresh in his feelings, and remarkable for his cheerful and genial disposition. He has the reputation of a very charitable man, having given freely to churches and colleges. He has a fine country seat on one of the islands of Lake Erie, near Sandusky, and dispenses a lavish hospitality. He has a bright, sympathetic face, agreeable manners, and a firm month that represents his character.
Fisk & Hatch
Another firm that has made a fortune by acting as agents of government loans is Fisk & Hatch. Before the War they were both living on salaries; Hatch being an officer in a Jersey City bank, at $1,200 a year. Soon as they began to negotiate the bonds they found themselves on the high road to fortune. They now do a very large business in Nassau, near Wall street, and have cleared $1,000,000 a year. They are both young and born financiers. They are much esteemed; do a strictly legitimate business; are conscientious members of the church, and liberal in their charities.
August Belmont came here originally as the agent of the Rothschild's, and is, perhaps, better known as a politician than as a banker. His office is at No. 50 Wall street, in a great, dingy granite building, where the largest transactions are made. He does most of his business on foreign account; is very wealthy, and one of the shrewdest of financiers. His wife is the daughter of Commodore Perry, and his home in Fifth avenue, corner of Eighteenth street, is interiorly one of the most elegant and luxurious in town. His picture gallery alone is said to be worth $400,000 or $500,000. He is the President of the Democratic National Committee, and has always taken a very prominent part in politics. He is small, heavy set, with a short, thick nose, not inviting in appearance, nor conciliating in manner. Though a man of brain and character, he is not at all popular, nor does he wish to be, satisfied with his position and his unquestionable power. He is a German by birth, though he has French blood, and is often alluded to by those who like him not, as a "Dutch Jew." He walks lame, having been wounded in a duel while living on the Continent; but in the peculiar understanding of Wall street he is not likely to be crippled. He is too sagacious and far-seeing to become financially halt.
Brown Brothers & Co.,
Brown Brothers & Co., 59 Wall street, is one of the most eminent houses in America. Their great marble banking-house is not surpassed by any similar establishment on this or the other side of the Atlantic. It cost over a million, and is an architectural ornament to the monetary quarter. The founder of the house, James Brown, is still in it. He is from the North of Ireland; began life as a linen-draper, and having made a fortune, established the banking-house with his brother, who had been knighted for his services to the British Government. James Brown is regarded as a high type of business honor; is probably worth $12,000,000 or $15,000,000; is a devout Presbyterian, and prominent in numerous charities. He is nearly sixty, but in excellent health and one of our most useful citizens.
James G. King's Sons
James G. King's Sons have a very quiet, plain establishment at No. 54 William street. James G. King has been dead for some years, and the business is continued by his sons. It is one of the oldest firms in the City, and in the very best standing. It deals largely in foreign exchange and grants letters of credit available in all the principal cities of Europe. The Kings are an old New York family, and their commercial honor has never been tarnished. They are very rich, but wholly without ostentation.
Leonard W. Jerome
Leonard W. Jerome is quite a contrast to such men as the Browns and Kings. He belongs to the present day school of bold, often reckless operators; represents the fast financiers of the street. He was formerly a newspaper publisher in Rochester, but has for years been a prominent operator in stocks. He is shrewd, resolute, full of expedients and resources; makes and loses fortunes every twelve months, but manages to float conspicuous on the financial tide. He is a noted person; a man of the world and fond of pleasure; dresses showily; drives fleet horses; has fast friends; enjoys display; gives expensive entertainments; is extravagant and careless; is called good-looking; lives with a free hand and a liberal heart in the sunshine of the passing hour.