Fascinating New Yorkers

NONFICTION

The Money Game in Old New York: Daniel Drew and His Times

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“I got to be a millionaire afore I know’d it hardly,” said Daniel Drew, an uneducated farm boy turned cattle drover, tavern keeper, steamboat operator, and financier. As the colorful “Uncle Daniel” of Wall Street he repeatedly disrupted financial markets with manipulations that either won or lost him millions of dollars.

Having “got religion” upon hearing a fire-and-brimstone sermon at the age of fourteen, he was also a fervent Methodist. When, allied with Jim Fisk and Jay Gould, he was locked in battle with Cornelius Vanderbilt for control of the Erie Railway, and had to flee the state to avoid arrest, his fellow Methodists were baffled and disturbed. Even more upsetting were reports of Brother Drew exiled in Jersey City and subject to threats of kidnapping by Vanderbilt agents, a predicament that delayed his conveying to the church the promised funds and deed for a new theological seminary that would bear his name.

Daniel Drew’s career mixes piety and rascality, high drama and low comedy, and “smartness” climaxed by bankruptcy. To know it is to know the turbulent yesterday that helped produce the America of today.

For more on Drew, see post #42 in my blog, “Robber Barons of Yore: Dan Drew.”

“The best part of Browder’s work is his account of Drew’s origins and early career. His material is fresh, well written, and does much to remove Drew from the list of historical caricatures. Once Browder takes up the more familiar episodes of Drew’s career, he ends up telling the old story in pretty much the old way.” — Maury Klein, Journal of American History, March 1988

“A history as fresh as tomorrow’s New York Times or Wall Street Journal. An illuminating account of a primordial period in the making of the national economy.” — Steven Fraser, Business History Review, Autumn 1987

“The author does have a knack for telling a story, and his book often reads like a good novel. “ — Virginia Quarterly Review, Summer 1986

Hardcover, published by The University Press of Kentucky, 1986.

Used copies available online at inflated prices.