The Scarlet Woman of Wall Street: Jay Gould, Jim Fisk, Cornelius Vanderbilt, the Erie Railway Wars, and the Birth of Wall Street

John Steele Gordon, Author
John Steele Gordon, Author George Weidenfeld & Nicholson $0 (421p) ISBN 978-1-55584-212-3
Reviewed on: 01/01/1988
Release date: 01/01/1988
Starting with the industrial revolution sparked by the steam engine, Gordon ( Overlanding , etc.) chronicles with clarity and wit the evolution of the free-market exchange of the booming post-Civil War era, during which Wall Street became the world's second largest financial center. He focuses on the cutthroat competition and legislative and legal battles for control of New York's regional railways. The Eriethe eponymous Scarlet Womanwas the object of fierce speculation by the notorious confidence man Daniel Drew and such financial tycoons as ``Jubilee'' Jim Fisk and Gould, the latter's gold speculations having almost single-handedly caused the 1869 panic in the Street. By 1870, as competition for Chicago and Western rail connections became acute, a rate war instigated by Vanderbilt broke out between his New York Central and Erie. The assassination of the popular Fisk led to the violent ouster of his partner Gould from Erie's presidency, followed by a steady decline in the railroad's fortunes until its demise as a separate company in the early 1970s. Illustrations not seen by PW. (August)
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