Feb

3

Wall Street in 1867[Anonymous: Souvenir of the New York Stock Exchange, New York: J.B. Gibson Company, 1893. Published to commemorate the first 100 years of the NYSE].

This noble institution is reared upon an imperishable basis of unswerving honor, sterling integrity, and unflagging enterprise. The collossal achievements of our capitalists in the field of railroad development would not have been possible without the unerring guide (the NYSE) provided the public of the values thereof.

Very different from ours was the Stock Exchange under the Buttonwood tree of Wall Street where old time brokers sat and smoked their huge mearschtrams [Ed: meerschaums ?], nodding their indescribable hats, with the utmost gravity in transacting business. Long and cordially was each bargain dwelt on before it was closed. Men such as Nat. Prime and John Ward who dealt largely in US Bank stock and the shares of the newly incorporated banks which had taken the place of the old concern that went down in the panic of 1814.

One of the first important spec movements of magnitude at these early dates occured in 1822 when an extensive bear presence in Wall Street forced the holders of hypothecated bank stocks to throw them on the market, causing a rapid decline resulting in the stoppage of discounts in New York, Philadelphia, and Baltimore. Memberships at that time could be had for 100 dollars.

As the country emerged from the great depression of 1814, speculative and large joint stock enterprises met with a very favorable reception. In 1825 the Croton Water Works asked subscriptions for two million dolars of capital and ten million was subscribed. The famous and long to be remembered Morris Canal and Banking Company had a capital of 1 million dollars and was oversubscribed. The subscriptions were so successful that they were speedily able to sell out all they desired and in fact all the leading stocks found the times favorable for several years and paid enormous dividends. From five to 10% semi-annually dividends [Ed.: as a percentage of par value] were repeatedly declared by insurance companies: The Ocean Company in 1828 paying 20% semi annually, the american insurance company paid 12% each half year, and in 1829 declared a semi annual dividend of 15%. Such investments were as a matter of course eagerly sought, and when the formation of railroad companies began, their stock found a ready market. State legislatures eager to avoid taxation and to aid internal improvements also availed themselves of the opening and issued bonds by the millions. By 1837 there were at least one hundred and seventy five millions of dollars worth of these securities in existence, 60 million of bank shares, 40 of railroads, fifty for canals and the rest miscellaneous.

During 1833 the market became very much depressed, several failures occurred and one house went under. Among the active stocks of those good old days were those of the Life and Trust company, Mohawk and Hudson Railroad, Delaware and Hudson Canal, Boston and Providence Railroad, Saratoga Railroad, Morris Canal and Banking Company and Harlem Railroad. In the year 1835, the brokers boomed many of the leading stocks so much that within five months, Morris Railroad had gone up from 70 to 207, Harlem from 63 to 100, and Delaware and Hudson Canal from 72 to 115.


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