Attorney Karen Hudes, Acting General Counsel for the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, exposes the corrupt financial system that the global elite are using to control the wealth of the world. This is a timely broadcast as we see the world’s financial system teetering on the brink of insolvency. You don’t want to miss this broadcast as it may save you from financial armageddon that must eventually unfold.
The History of the Great American Fortunes
by Gustavus Myers
(c) 1909, Charles H. Kerr & Co., Chicago
Synopsis – Behold, the forgotten history of the 1% in America. Laid bare are the robber barons who have so thoroughly dominated the political, industrial, and social landscapes of the United States. In this voluminous tome, Gus Myers lays out the sordid tale of how some of the richest men in the history of America made their towering fortunes. Covering an extensive chunk of history from the 1600’s to the dawn of the 1900’s, Myers’ research uncovers a long trail of bribery, theft, corruption, and deceit that transcend generations and industries. Touching on great landholders, shippers, traders, bankers, and railroad tycoons, Myers exposes the conveniently forgotten misdeeds of such larger-than-life industrialists as John Jacob Astor, Jay Gould, Cornelius Vanderbilt, J. Pierpont Morgan, and Russell Sage.
About the author – Historian and Reformer. Married Genevieve Whitney (1904), two children. Myers began his career as a muckraking journalist interested in progressive causes, particularly municipal corruption. In 1901 he published a History of Tammany Hall which received little public attention and strong Tammany criticism. After several years, Myers’ politics had moved to the left and by 1907 he had joined the Socialist Party. Committed to promoting Socialist goals, Myers was a regular contributor to The International Socialist Review, The Masses and to The Encyclopedia of Social Reform (1908). In 1909-1910 he published the notable History of Great American Fortunes (1909-1910), an expose of the evils of unfettered capitalism. He also wrote aHistory of the Supreme Court (1912) and a History of Canadian Wealth (1914). By 1912, however, Myers had become disillusioned with the Socialist Party for what he charged was its growing acceptance of materialism and, earning the enmity of many of his Socialist comrades, abandoned the Party. During World War I Myers supported the war effort by serving on the Creel Committee on Public information which supplied anti-German propaganda. During the 1920s and 1930s Myers began portraying America in a less critical light. In 1935 he wrote America Strikes Back, which attacked foreign criticism of the United States, and in 1939 published The Ending of Hereditary American Fortunes. [Source]
“Mr. Myers’s books are recommended only to the admirers of the muckraking school, because only they believe that the masses are poor, because of unwillingness to imitate the vices attributed to the rich. That doctrine is the root of much envy, hatred, and uncharitableness, and is noxious rather than meritorious in its effects. This is said without disparagement of the apparent effort of Mr. Myers to be accurate. His facts are not denied, but his inferences from them will not be admitted generally. All he says may be true, and yet there are other offsetting facts which compensate for the blemishes disclosed.”
– Review of “History of Canadian Wealth” by Gustavus Myers, published in the New York Times, July 5, 1914.E-book
Single File (187mb)1909 Edition
Vol. I – Archive.org | Google Books
Vol. II – Archive.org | Google Books
Vol III – Archive.org | Google BooksAudiobook (Click to listen)
Part 1 – An introduction to Gustavus Myers and his book History of Great American Fortunes. Some info about the podcast series and how to get the most out of it. The Preface to the 1909 Edition of the book. Includes Part I, Chapter I: The Great Proprietary Estates. British and Dutch Corporations Colonize America. Importation of Slaves, Servants, Debtors and Wives. Dutch Patroons and Land Monopolies Dominate the Colonies. Poor Treatment of the Workers.
Part 2 – Part I, Chapter II: The Sway of the Landgraves. Land Monopolies Swell With Power and Wealth. Land Barons Vested With Feudal Rights. Sharp Distinctions in Law Between Landlords and Poor Tenants. Corrupt Land Grants From Governor Fletcher. Entire States As Personal Property. Attempted Seizure of Fraudulent Land Patents. Landed Magnates Infest the Representative Assemblies. Economic Propulsion of the American Revolution. Some Wealthy Founding Fathers. Approaching Age of the Millionaire.
Part 3 – Part I, Chapter III: The Rise of the Trading Class & Part I, Chapter IV: The Shipping Fortunes. Traders and Shippers Rise To Power. Conditions of Tenants on Feudal Estates. Usury Becomes Rampant. Bonded Servitude. Colonial Manufacturing Interferes With British Monopolies. Smuggling, A Common Practice. Pirates and Privateers. Wealth From Fisheries, Whaling, Shipbuilding, and War. Free Trade and the American Revolution.
Part 4 – Part I, Chapter V: The Shippers and Their Times. Shippers and Traders Dominate After Revolution. Snatching Up Control of the New Government. Chinese Knockoffs and Health Hazards Infest Markets. Tax Breaks For the Rich. Poverty a Crime In America. Imprisoned Indefinitely for Debt. 75,000 Thrown In Debtors Prison In 1829. Too Rich To Jail. Astor and Girard Fortunes Tower Above All Others.
Part 5 – Part I, Chapter VI: Girard – Richest of the Shippers. Stephen Girard’s Whitewashed Legacy. His Humble Origins. A Miserable Miser. Profiting From the Haitian Revolution. Purchases First Central Bank. How He Treats His Employees. Girard Single-handedly Saves US Government With Usurious War Loans. Becomes Director of the Second Bank of the United States. The Bank Is Caught Bribing The Press. His Massive Fortune Left to Philanthropy.
Part 6 – Part II, Chapter I: The Origin of Huge City Estates. Feudal Lords in 1846. Aristocracy Founded in City Land. City Land Impervious to Changing Economic Conditions. Huge Expansion of Urban Populations. New York Becomes the Center of Trade. Astor Richer Than Many Millions of People Combined. Cheating on Property Taxes.
Part 7 – Part II, Chapter II: The Inception of the Astor Fortune. Astor’s Early Career. Incorporation of the American Fur Company. Expedition to Astoria, Oregon. Accusations of Treason During the War of 1812. Astor Brazenly Violates the Law. His Armed Agents in the West. Swindling the Indians with Whiskey. Numerous Pleas for Justice Sent to the Secretary of War. The Indians Paid With Overpriced Merchandise. The Traders Rig the Scales. Indians Revolt Against These Injustices. Indians Murdered by US Military. Astor’s $500,000 Annual Revenue From Fur Trade. His Agent’s Meager Earnings. $35,000 to Lewis Cass, Secretary of War.
Part 8 – Part II, Chapter III: The Growth of the Astor Fortune. Astor’s Living Conditions. Astor Above the Law. Astor and the China Trade. His Ships Unmolested During the War of 1812. Fraud Permeating All Sectors of Business. Astor Purchases the Morris Estate. Public Uproar Over His Land-Grabbing. Sells Land to Government At Five Times Its Price. Land Grants From Corrupt Government Officials. The Plunder of the New York Treasury. The City Gives Away Land. Huge Favors From New York City to His Benefit. Astor Preys On Others Misfortune.
Part 9 – Part II, Chapter IV: The Ramifications of the Astor Fortune. Bankers – The Masters Of the Masters. The Power of Banks To Manufacture Money. The Constitution A Trifle For The Bankers. Banknotes Ruled Not “Bills Of Credit”. Bank of New York Injects Itself Into Politics. Aaron Burr Secures Charter For Manhattan Company Under Suspicious Conditions. The Manhattan Company: A Secret Bank. Charter For Mercantile Bank Secured By Bribery. Bank of America Conceived In Flagrant Corruption. Bribery and the Chemical Bank. Bribery A Crime In Name Only. Astor’s Banking Activities. Corruption Blamed on Lobbyists. Wildcat Currency. Workingmen’s Party Protests. Movement Betrayed By Its Leaders. The Panic of 1837.
Part 10 – Part II, Chapter V: The Momentum of the Astor Fortune. Astor Profits Handsomely During Panic of 1837. The Massive Influx Of Immigrants Into New York City. Astor Evades Property Assessments. Rich Families Remove To Other States To Avoid Taxes. Swaying Public Opinion. Funds To Churches, Newspapers, Colleges, Politicians, and Judges. Property Qualifications For Suffrage Dissolve. Voting By Workers A Threat To Wealthy. Corrupting The Vote. Repeaters, Dilution, and Purchasing of Votes. Both Political Parties Dominated By Wealthy Interests. Astor’s Towering Fortune Eclipses All Others. The Death Of John Jacob Astor.
Part 11 – Part II, Chapter VI: The Propulsion of the Astor Fortune. John Jacob Astor Leaves Behind $20 Million. The Lifestyle of his heir, William B. Astor. An Endless Chain of Corruption. Astor’s Investments in the New York Central Railroad. Toe To Toe With Commodore Vanderbilt. Vanderbilt Proves Himself The Master Of Corruption. Astor, Boss Tweed, and Tammany Hall. Astor On Committee To Investigate His Cronies. $60,000,000 Swindle – Viaduct Railroad. Connections to Elihu Root. Astor’s Enormous Rents From Tenement Houses. The Deadly Conditions Of These Tenements. Humanity Of No Consequence. Tenement Houses Owned By Churches. William B. Astor Leaves Behind $100,000,000.
Part 12 – Part II, Chapter VII: The Climax of the Astor Fortune. William Astor Marries Into The Schermerhorn Clan. Centralizing Wealth Through Marriage. Law The Most Valuable Asset Of All. Astor Manipulates Property Assessments. The Fourth Generation Of Astors Emerges. The Parsimonious Habits Of Their Fathers Abandoned. They Build Opulent Mansions. William Waldorf Astor Gives Up His American Citizenship. “Reform Movements” Tools Of The Rich. Proximity Of Palaces To Poverty.
Part 13 – Part II, Chapter VIII: Other Land Fortunes Considered. The Goelet Fortune. Deep Family Links To Notorious Briber Frederick Phillips. Large Grants of Land From Corrupt Romaine Administration. Allowed To Pay For Land In Installments. Links To United States Bank By Marriage. Founders of The Chemical Bank. Bribery Charges Swirl Around Chemical Bank Charter. The Crimes Of One Generation Become The Glories Of Another. Masters of The Art Of Miserliness. The Rhinelander Fortune. Great Land Holdings Acquired From Trinity Church. Land Acquired From Corrupt City Officials. Land Acquired Through Marriage. The Schermerhorn Fortune. Their Land Also Acquired From Corrupt City Officials. Their Interests In The Bank Of New York. The Longworth Fortune In Cincinnati. Longworth’s Vagaries. The Longworths Go To Congress. Marriage Into The Roosevelt Family. The Field Fortune and Levi Leiter In Chicago. Fields Early Dry Goods Business. High Prices For Shoddy Materials During The Civil War.
Part 14 – Part II, Chapter IX: The Field Fortune In Extenso. Land For Practically Nothing. Land Values Steadily Increase. Fortunes Made During Panic Years. Field’s Vast Real Estate Holdings. He Makes $500 – $700 An Hour. How He Paid His Workers. Low Wages and Prostitution. Cutting Out the Middle Man. His Factories Spread Across the Globe. His Bond and Stock Holdings. The Director of Trusts.
Part 15 – Part II, Chapter X: Further Vistas of the Field Fortune. Marshall Field’s Methods in Managing Corporations. He Is the Shadowy Dictator of the Pullman Company. Establishment of the Pullman Factory and Company Town in Chicago. Workers Forced to Live On Factory Premises and Pay Rent. The Company Charges Employees Two and Three Times the Cost of Utilities. This Method Provides Free Water For Use in the Factory. Employees Taxed $0.50 a Month For Having Shutters On Their Rental Homes. Wages Slashed 25% During Panic of 1893. No Decrease of Rent and Utilities. Workers Monthly Wages Between $0.08 and $2.00 After Paying Company Rent and Utilities. Workers Rack Up $70,000 Debt for Unpaid Rents. Strike Declared in 1894 for Restoration of Wages. Mainstream Media Viciously Attacks the Strikers. The Company Hires Agent Provocateurs to Incite Violence. They Burn Down Their Own Railroad Cars to Blame on the Strikers. National Guard Called Out to Attack Strikers. Strike Leaders Imprisoned Without Trial. The President Sends In The Army as the Final Blow. Congressional Commission Later Validates the Strikers Complaints. Field Cheats on His Property Taxes. The Trustees of His Estate Forced to Settle For $1,000,000 In Back Taxes. Field’s Great Philanthropic Donations Boost His Real Estate Values. His Millions Left to Two Boys.
Part 16 – Continued reading of History of Great American Fortunes by Gustavus Myers. Includes Part III, Chapter I: The Seizure of the Public Domain. Factory Owner’s Fortunes Lag Behind the Railroad Magnates. Continuing Domination of Government By Business. Vast Swaths of Land Into the Hands of Speculators and Corporations. Land Speculators and Their Banking Adjuncts. Land Continually Secured By Bribery. The “Yazoo Claims” Scandal. Congress Reacts to Scandal With New Laws. Reform Laws Even Easier To Exploit. Milwaukee, 1847: 6,400+ Land Claims and Only 40 Settlers. Huge Gifts of Land to Railroads and Canal Corporations. The Truth About Privatization: Canals Privately Owned, Publicly Financed. 4,000,000 Acres To a Handful of Canal Corporations. Fraudulent Surveys Give Corporations Vast Copper Lands. Valuable Natural Resources NEVER Recovered. They Fail To Complete Construction. Beg Congress For Further Gifts of Land and Money. Cash the Great Persuader of Government.
Supplemental InfoGustavus Myers Obituary (New York Times, 1942)Gus Myers Facts Are Not Denied (New York Times, 1914)
Review of History of Great American Fortunes by Emerson David Fite, 1910
President Obama said recently that Senator Elizabeth Warren is wrong about the TPP being a huge gift to corporations. If Senator Warren is wrong, then why can’t the American public know the details of the trade deal? What we do know is that across the board, the TPP is going to give corporations everything they’ve ever wanted.
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