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Good bankers, like good tea, can only be appreciated when they are in hot water.

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Capital city : New York City and the men behind America’s rise to economic dominance, 1860-1900  Thomas Kessner  New York : Simon & Schuster, c 2003  Hardcover. First edition and printing. xix, 396 p. : ill. ; 25 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. [337]-381) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

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We take it for granted today that New York City is the nation’s financial capital. But why New York? Why not Boston or Philadelphia, Baltimore or Charleston — or any of the other East Coast cities? In Capital City Thomas Kessner tells the story of how an undistinguished port city rose to become the center of finance in the United States — and the world.

New York governor Horatio Seymour's famous "My Friends" speech, delivered from the steps of New York's City Hall during the draft riots  On the basis of reports such as this, Seymour was viewed as a disloyal  agitator. The riots, which took place between July 11 and 16, 1863, broke out as a result of the Enrollment Act, which was highly discriminatory to the lower classes.  Although not an enthusiast of President Lincoln's war policies, Seymour actually rushed to the scene of the riots and tried to restore order. Here Seymour stands on the City Hall steps, addressing a motley crowd of armed rioters. Behind Seymour stand three men, including (left to right) a fool (no doubt a newspaper editor) wearing a cap labeled "Express," former mayor Fernando Wood (whose top hat fails to conceal a pair of devil's horns), and a man resembling Tammany boss Peter B. Sweeny, with a hat tagged "4-11-44." Below the scene is the dialogue: A Friendly Voice: "Governor, we want you to stay here." Horatio Seymour: "I am going to stay here, M̀y Friends'" Second Rioter: "Faith and the Governor will stay with us." Horatio Seymour: "I am your f̀riend;" and the f̀riend' of your families."  Fourth Rioter: "How about the draft Saymere?" Governor: "I have ordered the president to stop the draft!" Chorus: "Be jabes, he's a 'broth of a boy."  It may have been published in connection with the New York "Tribune," whose building is prominent in the background. The "Tribune's" editor, Horace Greeley, was among Seymour's most vocal critics.

New York governor Horatio Seymour’s famous “My Friends” speech, delivered from the steps of New York’s City Hall during the draft riots On the basis of reports such as this, Seymour was viewed as a disloyal agitator. The riots, which took place between July 11 and 16, 1863, broke out as a result of the Enrollment Act, which was highly discriminatory to the lower classes. Although not an enthusiast of President Lincoln’s war policies, Seymour actually rushed to the scene of the riots and tried to restore order. Here Seymour stands on the City Hall steps, addressing a motley crowd of armed rioters. Behind Seymour stand three men, including (left to right) a fool (no doubt a newspaper editor) wearing a cap labeled “Express,” former mayor Fernando Wood (whose top hat fails to conceal a pair of devil’s horns), and a man resembling Tammany boss Peter B. Sweeny, with a hat tagged “4-11-44.” Below the scene is the dialogue: A Friendly Voice: “Governor, we want you to stay here.” Horatio Seymour: “I am going to stay here, M̀y Friends'” Second Rioter: “Faith and the Governor will stay with us.” Horatio Seymour: “I am your f̀riend;” and the f̀riend’ of your families.” Fourth Rioter: “How about the draft Saymere?” Governor: “I have ordered the president to stop the draft!” Chorus: “Be jabes, he’s a ‘broth of a boy.” It may have been published in connection with the New York “Tribune,” whose building is prominent in the background. The “Tribune’s” editor, Horace Greeley, was among Seymour’s most vocal critics.

With the opening of the Erie Canal and access to the Great Lakes and the Midwest, New York became the principal port and chief trading center of a growing nation. Some of New York’s merchants – most notably the all-but-forgotten Moses Taylor – discovered that lending money to shippers was more profitable than shipping itself. As shipping prospered and money accumulated in New York, a growing banking center emerged. By the time of the Civil War, New York was the chief financier of the Union cause.

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From across the land, New York attracted the driven, ambitious men who would direct the post ­Civil War expansion of the nation, underwriting the development of the West and the building of the world’s largest railroad network. Cornelius Vanderbilt, Jay Gould, Andrew Carnegie, J. P. Morgan, and John D. Rockefeller were drawn to New York’s business culture of daring capital, bold investment, and economic venture.

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New York banks set the interest rates for the nation. New York’s stock exchange fixed the price of securities. New York investors financed and dominated the large new corporations, and Wall Street became synonymous with the power of money. Despite panics and depressions, labor movements and populist crusades, Wall Street converted American industry from family-owned businesses to integrated corporations that drew on banking, accounting, and legal services all located in new office buildings in a booming downtown business district.

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New York was literally reconstructed by business interests that determined the location of parks, transportation, and museums. A new upper-class culture developed and influenced other leading cities. When John Pierpont Morgan first arrived on Wall Street, not a single industrial concern was listed on the New York Stock Exchange. By the time he completed the U.S. Steel consolidation, the NYSE listed more than 1,000 companies, including the foundation businesses of the twentieth-century economy.

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