American Rascal
American Rascal

American Rascal

A series of spectacular financial triumphs—some said swindles—had made Gould fabulously rich. (Location 23)

This book seeks to explain Jay Gould and his underappreciated—and aggressively maligned—role in the country’s transformative economic expansion of the nineteenth century. (Location 31)

Only the lesser-known figure of Jay Gould, as rich as any of them and another of Josephson’s “scoundrels,” was foremost a creature of Wall Street. (Location 43)

This was as far as things got. Arrested three times, Gould never spent a day in jail. In a better world, he would have. But these were raw times. (Location 46)

Gould, he argued, was a champion cheater. Even worse, he was an inspiration for others inclined to cheat. (Location 54)

the banker Jesse Seligman.6 Gould, of course, didn’t see himself as a crook. He bribed politicians because his competitors bribed politicians. Equally, he made his money not at gunpoint but by manipulating others to make bad decisions. (Location 67)

If someone was too lazy to read the fine print, too greedy to consider the downside, and too dumb to watch what Gould did rather than what he said, they deserved their fate. Gould feasted on other Wall Street professionals. (Location 71)

poor, despite that growth, stayed poor. Unchecked capitalism lifted supremely gifted men like Gould and caused misery, despair, and hardship for everyone else. (Location 112)

Gould, as much as anyone, catalyzed the call for change. His first great coup was the capture of the Erie Railroad in 1868. He did it with deception and bribery. A year later, Massachusetts, partly in reaction to Gould, created the Massachusetts Railroad Commission. (Location 115)

His grandfather had invented a rat trap and asked Jay to display the device at the show and sell the license. (Location 208)

Gould joined a reading circle that explored spirituality. Gould wasn’t religious but he searched for answers after the loss of his sister Polly. (Location 216)

Some years before Pratt rode into Roxbury, Gould, then sixteen, had tried to sell Pratt a map. Pratt didn’t need a map. But he liked Gould’s spirit and promised to keep him in mind. Gould made sure of it by sending him letters and telling him about his maps and other projects. Then came the rainy morning when Pratt went looking for Gould. (Location 272)

By now Gould was sick of surveying. He instead told Pratt about an idea he had. Gould’s brother-in-law operated a tannery in Pennsylvania and knew about a hemlock forest near the Lehigh River. It was the ideal spot for a tannery. (Location 275)

The difference was Gould’s diligence. He was more methodical, more voracious in search of insights, and more patient with minutiae. (Location 466)

WALL STREET WISDOM said if you went to court, you hired a lawyer but first you hired a judge. (Location 698)

It took a decade to clear the docket, “There isn’t any secret,” Gould once said. “I avoid bad luck by being patient. Whenever I’m obliged to get into a fight, I always wait and let the other fellow get tired first.”12 (Location 1766)

Andrew Carnegie was a year older than Gould. Before getting into the steel business, he made a fortune as a railroad executive trading on inside information. He thought only a fool invested without it. Daniel Drew agreed. To invest without insider knowledge, Drew said, was like buying a cow in the moonlight. You only knew what you bought after the sun came up. Gould would be buying cows in the moonlight. (Location 1905)

Cooke was the country’s most powerful and successful investment banker. If Cooke could fail, anyone could fail. And if Northern Pacific couldn’t make it, what about the other western railroads? (Location 2034)

Recessions typically last eleven months. The contraction that began in 1873 lasted five years. Called the Long Depression, it was the longest, most devastating period of economic weakness in the country’s history and was unsurpassed until the Great Depression. (Location 2043)

With bargains around every corner, he set his sights on the connecting fabric of the transcontinental rail chain. He wanted the Union Pacific. (Location 2050)

“We are all paupers now,” moaned the blindsided President Grant. “We are ruined.” (Location 2655)