HISTORY OF THE GREAT AMERICAN FORTUNES

CHAPTER V

THE MOMENTUM OF THE ASTOR FORTUNE



It was at this identical time, in the panic of 1837, that Astor was phenominally active in profiting from despair.  “ He added immensely to his riches,” wrote a contemporaneous narrator, “ by purchases of State stocks, bonds and mortgages in the financial crisis of 1836-37.  He was a willing purchaser of mortgages from needy holders at less than their face ;  and when they became due, he foreclosed on them, and purchased the mortgaged property at the ruinous prices which ranged at that time.”1

If his seven per cent was not paid at the exact time, he inflexibly made use of every provision of the law and foreclosed mortgages.  The courts quickly responded.  To lot after lot, property after property, he took full title.  The anguish of families, the sorrow and suffering of the community, the blank despair and ruination which drove many to beggary and prostitution, others to suicide, all had no other effect upon him than to make him more eagerly energetic in availing himself of the misfortunes and the tragedies of others.

Now was observable the operation of the centripetal principle which applied to every recurring panic, namely, that panics are but the easy means by which the very rich are enabled to get possession of more and more of the general produce and property.  The ranks of petty landowners were much thinned out by the panic of 1837 and the number of independent business men was greatly reduced ;  a considerable part of both classes were forced down into the army of wageworkers.


ASTOR’S WEALTH MULTIPLIES.


Within a few years after the panic of 1837 Astor’s wealth multiplied to an enormous extent.  Business revived, values increased.  It was now that immigration began to pour in heavily.  In 1843 sixty thousand immigrants entered the port of New York.  Four years later the number was 129,000 a year.  Soon it rose to 300,00 a year ;  and from that time on kept on ever increasing.  A large portion of these immigrants remained in New York City.  Land was in demand as never before ;  fast and faster the city grew.  Vacant lots of a few years before became congested with packed humanity ;  landlordism and slums flourished side by side, the one as a development of the other.  The outlying farm, rocky and swamp lands of the New York City of 1812, with its 100,000 population became the thickly-settled metropolis of 1840, with 317,712 inhabitants and the well-nigh half-million population of 1850.  Hard as the laborer might work, he was generally impoverished for the reason that successively rents were raised, and he had to yield up more and more of his labor for the simple privilege of occupying an ugly and cramped habitation.

Once having fastened his hold upon the land, Astor never sold it.  From the first, he adopted the plan, since religiously followed, for the most part, by his descendants, of leasing the land for a given number of years, usually twenty-one.  Large tracts of land in the heart of the city he let lie unimproved for years while the city fast grew up all around them and enormously increased their value.  He often refused to build, although there was intense pressure for land and buildings.  His policy was to wait until the time when those whom necessity drove to use his land should come to him as supplicants and accept his own terms.  For a considerable time no one cared to take his land on lease at his onerous terms.  But, finally, such was the growth of population and business, that his land was indispensable and it was taken on leaseholds.

Astor’s exactions for leaseholds were extraordinarily burdensome.  But he would make no concessions.  The lessee was required to erect his dwelling or business place at his own expense ;  and during the period of the twenty-one years of the lease, he not only had to pay rent in the form of giving over to Astor five or six per cent of the value of the land, but was responsible for all taxes, repairs and all other charges.  When the ground lease expired the buildings became Astor’s absolute property.  The middleman landlord, speculative lessee or trading tenant who leased Astor’s land and put up tenements or buildings, necessarily had to recoup himself for the high tribute that he had to pay to Astor.  He did this either by charging the worker exorbitant rents or demanding excessive profits for his wares ;  in both of which cases the producers had finally to foot the bill.


EVASION OF ASSESSMENTS BY THE LANDLORDS.


The whole machinery of the law Astor, in common with all other landlords, used ruthlessly in enforcing his rights as landlord or as lessor or lessee.  Not a single instance has come down of any act of leniency on Astor’s part in extending the time of tenants in arrears.  Whether sickness was in the tenant’s family or not, however dire its situation might be, out it was summarily thrown into the streets, with its belongings, if it failed in the slightest in its obligations.

While he was availing himself of the rigors of the law to oust tenants in arrears, he was constantly violating the law in evading assessments.  But this practice was not by any means peculiar to Astor.  Practically the whole propertied class did it, not merely once, but so continually that year after year official reports adverted to the fact.  An Aldermanic report on taxation in 1846 showed that thirty million dollars worth of assessable property escaped taxation every year, and that no bona fide efforts were made by the officials to remedy that state of affairs.2  The state of morality among the propertied classes — those classes which demanded such harsh laws for the punishment of vagrants and poor criminals — is clearly revealed by this report made by a committee of the New York Board of Aldermen in 1847 :

For several years past the evasion of taxation on the part of those engaged in the business of the city, and enjoying the protection and benefits of its municipal government and its great public improvements, has engaged the attention of the city authorities, called forth reports of committees and caused application to the Legislature for relief, but the demands of justice and the dictates of sound policy have hitherto been entirely unheeded.

Necessarily they were unheeded, for the very obvious reason that it was this same class which controlled the administration of government.  This class distorted the powers of government by calling either for the drastic enforcement of laws operating for its interests, or for the partial or entire immunity from other laws militating against its interests and profit.  The report thus continued :

Our rich merchants and heavy capitalists ... find excuses to remove their families to nearby points and thus escape all taxation whatever, except for the premises that they occupy.  More than 2,000 firms engaged in business in New York, whose capital is invested and used in New York, and with an aggregate personal property of $30,000,000, thus escape taxation.3

DEFRAUDING A FINE ART.


The committee pointed out that at the taxable rate of 1 per cent the city was, in that way, being cheated out of the sum of $225,000 or $300,000 a year.  These two thousand firms who every year defrauded the city were the eminently respectable and influential merchants of the city ;  most of them were devout church members ;  many were directors or members of charitable societies to relieve the poor ;  and all of them, with vast pretensions of superior character and ability, joined in opposing any movement of the working classes for better conditions and in denouncing those movements as hostile to the security of property and as dangerous to the welfare of society.  Each of these two thousand firms year after year defrauded the city out of an average of $150 annually in that one item, not to mention other frauds.  Yet not once was the law invoked against them.  The taxation that they shirked fell upon the working class in addition to all of those other myriad forms of indirect taxation which the workers finally had to bear.  Yet, as we have noted before, if a poor man or woman stole property of the value of $25 or more, conviction carried with it a long term in prison for grand larceny.  In every city — in Boston, Philadelphia, Cincinnati, Baltimore, New Orleans and in every other place — the same, or nearly the same, conditions prevailed.  The rich evaded taxation ;  and if in the process it was necessary to perjure themselves, they committed perjury with alacrity.  Astor was far from being an exception.  He was but an illustrious type of the whole of his class.

But, how, in a Government theoretically democratic and resting on popular suffrage, did the propertied interests get control of Government functions ?  How were they able to sway the popular vote and make, or evade, laws ?

By various influences and methods.  In the first place, the old English ideas of the superiority of aristocracy had a profound effect upon American thought, customs and laws.  For centuries these ideas had been incessantly disseminated by preachers, pamphleteers, politicians, political economists and editors.  Where in England the concept applied mainly to rank by birth, in America it was adapted to the native aristocracy, the traders and landowners.  In England it was an admixture of rank and property ;  in America, where no titles of nobility existed, it became exclusively a token of the propertied class.  The people were assiduously taught in many open and subtle ways to look up to the inviolability of property, just as in the old days they had been taught to look humbly up to the majesty of the king.  Propertied men, it was preached and admonished, represented the worth, stability, virtue and intelligence of the community.  They were the solid, substantial men.  What importance was to be attached to the propertyless ?  They, forsooth, were regarded as irresponsible and vulgar ;  their opinions and aspirations were held of small account.


HOW PUBLIC OPINION WAS MADE.


The churches professed to preach to all ;  yet they depended largely upon men of property for contributions ;  and moreover the clergy, at least the influential of them, were propertied men themselves.  The preachings of the colleges and the doctrines of the political economists corresponded precisely to the views the trading interests at different periods wanted taught.  Many of the colleges were founded with funds contributed or bequeathed by traders.  The newspapers were supported by the advertisements of the propertied class.  The various legislative bodies were mainly, and the judicial benches wholly, recruited from the ranks of the lawyer class ;  these lawyers either had, or sought to have, the rich as clients ;4 few attorneys are overzealous for poor men’s cases.  Still further, the lawyers were deeply impregnated, not with the conception of law as it might be, but as it had been handed down through the centuries.  Encrusted creatures of precedent and self-interest, they thoroughly accepted the doctrine that in the making and enforcement of law their concern should be for the propertied interests.  With few exceptions they were aligned with the propertied.

So that here were many influences all of which conspired to spread on every hand, and drill deep in the minds of all classes, often even of those who suffered so keenly by prevalent conditions, the idea that the propertied men were the substantial element.  Consequently with this idea continuously driven into every stratum of society, it was not surprising that it should be embodied in thoughts, customs, laws and tendencies.  Nor was it to be wondered at that when occasionally a proletarian uprising enunciated radical principles, these principles should seem to be abnormally ultra-revolutionary.  All society, for the most part, except a fragment of the working class, was enthralled by the spell of property.


THE SANCTITY OF PROPERTY.


Out of this prevailing idea grew many of the interpretations and partial enforcements.  A legislator, magistrate or judge might be the very opposite of venal, and yet be irresistibly impelled by the force of training and association to take the current view of the unassailable rights and superiority of property.  It would be biassed, in fact, ridiculous to say that the privileges and exemptions enjoyed by the rich were altogether the outcome of corruption by bribes.  There is a much more subtle and far more effective and dangerous form of corruption.  This is corruption of the mind.  For innumerable centuries all government had proceeded, perhaps not avowedly, but in reality, upon the settled and consistent principle that the sanctity of property was superior to considerations of human life, and that a man of property could not very well be a criminal and a peril to the community.  Under various disguises church, college, newspaper, politician, judge, all were expositors of this principle.

The people were drugged with laudations of property.  But these teachings were supplemented by other methods which added to their effectiveness.  We have seen how after the Revolution the propertied classes withheld suffrage from those who lacked property.  They feared that property would no longer be able to dominate Government.  Gradually they were forced to yield to the popular demand and allow manhood suffrage.  This seemed to them a new and affrighting force ;  if votes were to determine the personnel and policy of Government, then the propertyless, being in the majority, would overwhelm them eventually and pass an entirely new code of laws.

In one State after another, the propertied class were driven, after a prolonged struggle, to grant citizens a vote, whether they had property or not.  In New York State unqualified manhood suffrage was adopted in 1822, but in other States it was more difficult to bring about this revolutionary change.  The fundamental suffrage law of New Jersey, for instance, remained, for more than sixty years after the adoption of the Declaration of Independence, in accordance with an act passed by the Provincial Congress of New Jersey on July 2, 1776, two days before the adoption of the Declaration of Independence, or according to some authorities, on the very day of its adoption.  Among other requirements this act (I Laws, N.J. p. 4.) decreed that the voter must be “ worth 50 proclamation money, clear estate within the colony.”  The fourth section of an act passed by the New Jersey Legislature in June, 1820 (1 Laws N.J. P. 741), expressly re-enacted this same property qualification.  By about the year 1840, however, nearly all the States had adopted manhood suffrage, so far as it applied to whites.  The severest and most dramatic conflict took place in Rhode Island.  In 1762 an act had been passed declaring that the possession of 40 was necessary to become qualified as a voter.  This law continued in force in Rhode Island for more than eighty years.  In the years 1811, 1819, 1824, 1829, 1832 and 1834 the workingmen (or the mechanics, as the official reports styled them), made the most determined efforts to have this property qualification abolished, but the propertied classes, holding the legislative power, declined to make any change.  Under such a law it was easy for one-third of the total number of resident male adults to have the exclusive decisions in elections ;  the largest vote ever polled in Rhode Island, was in the Presidential election of 1840, when 8,662 votes were cast, in a total adult male population of permanent resident citizens of about 24,000.  The result of this hostility of the propertied classes was a rising in 1840 of the workingmen in what is slurringly misdescribed in conventional history as “ Dorr’s Rebellion,”— an event the real history of which has not as yet been told.  This movement eventually compelled the introduction in Rhode Island of suffrage without the property qualification.

How did the propertied classes meet this extension of suffrage throughout the United States ?


CORRUPTION AT THE POLLS.


A systematic corruption of the voters was now begun.  The policy of bribing certain legislators to vote for bank, railroad, insurance company and other charters was extended to reach down into ward politics, and to corrupt the voters at the springs of power.  With a part of the money made in the frauds of trade or from exactions for land, the propertied interests, operating at first by personal entry into politics and then through the petty politicians of the day, packed caucuses and primaries and bought votes at the polls.  This was equally true of both city and rural communities.  In many of the rural sections the morals of the people were exceedingly low, despite their church-going habits.  The cities contained, as they always do contain, a certain quota of men, products of the industrial system, men of the slums and alleyways, so far gone in destitution or liquor that they no longer had manhood or principle.  Along came the election funds of the traders, landholders and bankers to corrupt these men still further by the buying of their votes and the inciting of them to commit the crime of repeating at the polls.  Exalted society and the slums began to work together ;  the money of the one purchased the votes of the other.  Year after year this corruption fund increased until in the fall of 1837 the money raised in New York City by the bankers alone amounted to $60,000.  Although this sum was meager compared to the enormous corruption funds which were employed in subsequent years, it was a sum which, at that time, could do great execution.  Ignorant immigrants were persuaded by offerings of money to vote this way or that and to repeat their votes.  Presently the time came when batches of convicts were brought from the prisons to do repeating, and overawe the polls in many precincts.5

As for that class of voters who could not be bribed and who voted according to their conceptions of the issues involved, they were influenced in many ways :— by the partisan arguments of newspapers and of political speech-makers.  These agencies of influencing the body politic were indirectly controlled by the propertied interests in one form or another.  A virtual censorship was exercised by wealth ;  if a newspaper dared advocate any issue not approved by the vested interests, it at once felt the resentment of that class in the withdrawal of advertisements and of those privileges which banks could use or abuse with such ruinous effect.


POLITICAL SUBSERVIENCY.


Finally, both of the powerful political parties were under the domination of wealth ;  not, to be sure, openly so, but insidiously.  Differences of issue there assuredly were, but these issues did not in any way affect the basic structure of society, or threaten the overthrow of any of the fundamental privileges held by the rich.  The political campaigns, except that later contest which decided the eventual fate of chattel slavery, were, in actuality, sham battles.  Never were the masses so enthusiastic since the campaign of 1800 when Jefferson was elected, as they were in 1832 when they sided with President Jackson in his fight against the United States Bank.  They considered this contest as one between the people, on the one side, and, on the other, the monied aristocracy of the country.  The United States Bank was effaced ;  but the State banks promptly took over that share of the exploitative process so long carried on by the United States Bank, and the people, as has already been explained, were no better off than they were before.  One set of ruling capitalists had been put down only to make way for another.

Both parties received the greater part of their campaign funds from the men of large property and from the vested corporations or other similar interests.  Astor, for example, was always a liberal contributor, now to the Whig party and again to the Democratic.  In return, the politicians elected by those parties to the legislature, the courts or to administrative offices usually considered themselves under obligations to that element which financed their campaigns and which had the power of defeating their reelection by the refusal of funds or by supporting the opposite party.  The masses of the people were simply pawns in these political contests, yet few of them understood that all the excitement, partisan activity and enthusiasm into which they threw themselves, generally had no other significance than to enchain them still faster to a system whose beneficiaries were continuously getting more and more rights and privileges for themselves at the expense of the people, and whose wealth was consequently increasing by precipitate bounds.


ASTOR BECOMES AMERICA’S RICHEST MAN.


Astor was now the richest man in America.  In 1847 his fortune was estimated at fully $20,000,000.  In all the length and breadth of the United States there was no man whose fortune was within even approachable distance of his.  With wonderment his contemporaries regarded its magnitude.  How great it ranked at that period may be seen by a contrast with the wealth of other men who were considered very rich.

In 1847 and 1852 a pamphlet listing the number of rich men in New York was publislied under the direction of Moses Yale Beach, publisher of the “ New York Sun.”  The contents of this pamphlet were vouched for as strictly accurate.6  The pamphlet showed that there were at that time perhaps twenty-five men in New York City who were ranked as millionaires.  The most prominent of these were Peter Cooper with an accredited fortune of $1,000,000 ;  the Goelets, $2,000,000 ;  the Lorillards, $1,000,000 ;  Moses Taylor, $1,000,000 ;  A.T. Stewart, $2,000,000 ;  Cornelius Vanderbilt, $1,500,000, and William B. Crosby, $1,500,000.  There were a few fortunes of $500,000 each, and several hundred ranging from $100,000 to $300,000.  The average fortunes graded from $100,000 to $200,000.  A similar pamphlet published in Philadelphia showed that that city contained a bevy of nine millionaires, only two of whose individual fortunes exceeded $1,000,000.7  No facts are available as to the private fortunes in Boston and other cities.  Occasionally the briefest mention would appear in the almanacs of the period of the death of this or that rich man.  There is a record of the death of Alexander Milne, of New Orleans, in 1838 and of his bequest of $200,000 to charitable institutions, and of the death of M. Kohne, of Charleston, S.C., in the same year with the sole fact that he left $730,000 in charitable bequests.  In 1841 there appeared a line that Nicholas Girod, of New Orleans, died leaving $400,000 to “ various objects,” and a scant notice of the death of William Bartlett, of Newburyport, Mass., coupled with the fact that he left $200,000 to Andover Seminary.  It is entirely probable that none of these men were millionaires ;  otherwise the fact would have been brought out conspicuously.  Thus, when Pierre Lorillard, a New York snuff maker, banker, and landholder, died in 1843, his fortune of $1,000,000 or so, was considered so unusual that the word millionaire, newly-coined, was italicized in the rounds of the press.  Similarly in the case of Jacob Ridgeway, a Philadelphia millionaire, who died in the same year.

The passing away now of a man worth a mere million, calls forth but a trifling, passing notice.  Yet when Henry Brevoort died in New York City in 1848, his demise was accounted an event in the annals of the day.  His property was estimated at a valuation of about $1,000,000, the chief source of which came from the ownership of eleven acres of land in the heart of the city.  Originally his ancestors cultivated a truck farm and ran a dairy on this land, and daily in the season carried vegetables, butter and milk to market.  Brevoort, the newspaper biography read, was a “ man of fine taste in painting, literature and intellectual pursuits of every kind.  He owned a large property in the fashionable part of the city, where he erected a splendid house, elegantly adorned and furnished in the Italian style ;  for he was quite a connoisseur in the arts.”

It can be at once seen in what transcendent degree Astor’s wealth towered far above that of every other rich man in the United States.


ASTOR’S TOWERING WEALTH.


His fortune was the colossus of the times ;  an object of awe to all wealth-strivers.  Necessary as manufactures were in the social and industrial system, they, as yet, occupied a strikingly subordinate and inferior position as an agency in accumulating great fortunes.  Statistics issued in 1844 of manufactures in the United States showed a total gross amount of $307,196,844 invested.  Astor’s wealth, then, was one-fifteenth of the whole amount invested throughout the territory of the United States in cotton and wool, leather, flax and iron, glass, sugar, furniture, hats, silks, ships, paper, soap, candles, wagons — in every kind of goods which the demands of civilization made indispensable.

The last years of this magnate were passed in an atmosphere of luxury, laudation and power.  On Broadway, by Prince street, he built a pretentious mansion, and adorned it with works of art which were more costly than artistic.  Of medium height, he was still quite stout, but his once full, heavy face and his deep set eyes began to sag from the encroachments of extreme advanced age.  He could be seen every weekday poring over business reports at his office on Prince street — a one-story, fireproof brick building, the windows of which were guarded by heavy iron bars.  The closing weeks of his life were passed at his country seat at Eighty-eighth street and the East River.  Infirm and debilitated, so weak and worn that he was forced to get his nourishment like an infant at a woman’s breast, and to have exercise administered by being tossed in a blanket, he yet retained his faculty of vigilantly scrutinizing every arrear on the part of tenants, and he compelled his agent to render daily accounts.  Parton relates this story :

One morning this gentleman [the agent] chanced to enter his room while he was enjoying his blanket exercise.  The old man cried out from the middle of his blanket :
“Has Mrs. —— paid that rent yet ?”
“ No,” replied the agent.
“ Well, but she must pay it,” said the poor old man.
“Mr. Astor,” rejoined the agent, “she can’t pay it now ;  she has had misfortunes, and we must give her time.”
“ No, no,” said Astor ; “ I tell you she can pay it and she will pay it.  You don’t go the right way to work with her.”
      The agent took leave, and mentioned the anxiety of the old gentleman with regard to this unpaid rent to his son, who counted out the requisite sum, and told the agent to give it to the old man, as if he had received it from the tenant.
      “ There,” exclaimed Mr. Astor when he received the money.  “ I told you that she would pay it if you went the right way to work with her.”8

THE DEATH OF JOHN JACOB ASTOR.


So, to the last breath, squeezing arrears out of tenants ;  his mind focused upon those sordid methods which had long since become a religion to him ;  contemplating the long list of his possessions with a radiant exaltation ;  so Astor passed away.  He died on March 29, 1848, aged eighty-four years, four months ;  and almost as he died, the jubilant shouts of the enthusiastic workingmen’s processions throughout the city resounded high and often.  They were celebrating the French Revolution of 1848, intelligence of which had just arrived ; — a Revolution brought about by the blood of the Parisian workingmen, only to be subsequently stifled by the stratagems of the bourgeoisie and turned into the corrupt despotism of Napoleon III.

The old trader left an estate valued at about $20,000,O00.  The bulk of this descended to William B. Astor.  The extent of wealth disclosed by the will made a profound impression.  Never had so rich a man passed away ;  the public mind was not accustomed to the sight of millions of dollars being owned by one man.  One New York newspaper, the “ Journal,” after stating that Astor’s personal estate amounted to seven or nine million dollars, and his real estate to perhaps more, observed “ Either sum is quite out of our small comprehension ;  and we presume that with most men, the idea of one million is about as large an item as that of any number of millions.”  An entirely different and exceptional view was taken by James Gordon Bennett, owner and editor of the New York “Herald;” Bennett’s comments were the one distinct contrast to the mass of flowery praise lavished upon Astor’s memory and deeds.  He thus expressed himself in the issue of April 5, 1848 :


THE WONDER OF THE AGE.


The analyst might well be tempted to smile at the puerility of this logic.  If Astor was entitled to onehalf of the value created by the collective industry of the community, why was he not entitled to all ?  Why make the artificial division of one-half ?  Either he had the right to all or to none.  But this editorial, for all its defects of reasoning, was an unusual expression of newspaper opinion, although of a single day, and was smothered by the general course of that same newspaper in supporting the laws and institutions demanded by the commercial aristocracy.

So the arch multi-millionaire passed away, the wonder and the emulation of the age.  His friends, of whom he had a few, deeply mourned him, and his bereaved family suffered a deep loss, for, it is related, he was a kind and indulgent husband and father.  He left a legacy of $400,000 for the establishment of the Astor Library ;  for this and this alone his memory has been preserved as that of a philanthropist.  The announcement of this legacy was hailed with extravagant joy ;  yet such is the value of meretricious glory and the ideals of present society, that none has remarked that the proceeds of one year’s pillage of the Indians were more than sufficient to found this much-praised benevolence.  Thus does society blind itself to the origin of the fortunes, a fraction of which goes to gratify it with gifts.  The whole is taken from the collective labor of the people, and then a part is returned in the form of institutional presents which are in reality bits of charity bestowed upon the very people from whose exploitation the money has come.  Astor, no doubt, thought that, in providing for a public library, he was doing a service to mankind ;  and he must be judged, not according to the precepts and demands of the scarcely heard working class of his day with its altruistic aspirations, nor of more advanced present ideas, but by the standards of his own class, that commercial aristocracy which arrogated to itself superiority of aims and infallibility of methods.

He died the richest man of his day.  But vast fortunes could not be heaped up by him and his contemporaries without having their corresponding effect upon the mass of the people.  What was this effect ?  At about the time that he died there was in New York City one pauper to every one hundred and twenty-five inhabitants and one person in every eighty-three of the population had to be supported at the public expense.9



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1 “ Reminiscences of John Jacob Astor,” New York “ Herald,” March 31, 1848.

2 Doc. No. 24, Proceedings of the [New York City] Board of Assistant Aldermen, xxix. The Merchant’s Bank, for instance, was assessed in 1833 at $6,000 ;  it had cost that sum twenty years before and in 1833 was worth three times as much.

3 Proceedings of the [New York City] Board of Assistant Aldermen, xxix, Doc. No. 18.

4 Many eminent lawyers, elected or appointed to high official or judicial office, were financially interested in corporations, and very often profited in dubious ways.  The case of Roger B. Taney, who, from 1836, was for many years, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, is a conspicuous example.  After he was appointed United States Secretary of the Treasury in 1833, the United States Senate passed a resolution inquiring of him whether he were not a stockholder in the Union Bank of Maryland, in which bank he had ordered public funds deposited.  He admitted that he was, but asserted that he had obtained the stock before he had selected that bank as a depository of public funds.  (See Senate Docs., First Session, 23rd Congress, Vol. iii, Doc. No. 238.)  It was Taney, who as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, handed down the decision, in the Dred Scott case, that negro slaves, under the United States Constitution, were not eligible to citizenship and were without civil rights.

5 These frauds at the polls went on, not only in every State but even in such newly-organized Territories as New Mexico.  Many facts were brought out by contestants before committees of Congress.  (See “ Contested Elections,” 1834 to 1865, Second Session, 38th Congress, 1864-65, Vol. v, Doc. No. 57.)  In the case of Monroe vs. Jackson, in 1848, James Monroe claimed that his opponent was illegally elected by the votes of convicts and other non-voters brought over from Blackwell’s Island.  The majority of the House Elections Committee reported favoring Monroe’s being seated.  Aldermanic documents tell likewise of the same state of affairs in New York.  (See the author’s “ History of Tammany Hall.”)  Similar practices were common in Philadelphia, Baltimore and other cities, and in country townships.

6 “The Wealth and Biography of the Wealthy Citizens of the City of New York.”  By Moses Yale Beach.

7 “ Wealth and Biography of the Wealthy Citizens of Philadelphia.”  By a Member of the Philadelphia Bar, 1845.
      The misconception which often exists even among those who profess the deepest scholarship and the most certainty of opinion as to the development of men of great wealth was instanced by a misstatement of Dr. Felix Adler, leader of the New York Society for Ethical Culture.  In an address on “ Anti-Democratic Tendencies in American Life” delivered some years ago, Dr. Adler asserted :  “Before the Civil War there were three millionaires ;  now there are 4,000.”  The error of this assertion is evident.

8 Parton’s “ Life of John Jacob Astor ”: 80-81.

9 “ Proceedings of the Board of Assistant Aldermen, xxix, Doc. No. 24. This poverty was the consequence, not of any one phase of the existing system, nor of the growth of any one fortune, but resulted from the whole industrial system.  The chief form of the exploitation of the worker was that of his capacity as a producer ;  other forms completed the process.  A considerable number of the paupers were immigrants, who, fleeing from exploitation at home, were kept in poverty in America, “ the land of boundless resources.”  The statement often made that there were no tramps in the United States before the Civil War is wholly incorrect.