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“Is it that you want to be a director of the Erie ?"
I hemmed and hawed, chewed my tobacco for a spell, and then said I'd think their offer over. Some time before the Erie's annual meeting I let it be known that, inasmuch as they had asked me to take a position as director, I might see my way clear to accept if I was elected. I I put it kind of mild, like that. But I was just itching to get in on the inside. Like a dog around hot porridge, there was something good there, if I could only get to it. I could hardly wait. Finally the election took place, and they sent me word that I had been elected a member of the Board of Directors. I at last on the inside...own.
But even this wasn't enough. To be a director is something. It gives you Wall Street tips ahead of the people who are on the outside. But I wanted something more (I always was ambitious, never contented, but always pushing on to something better). So I now took steps to get the road completely under my
thumb. In order to do this, I saw I'd have to get her to borrow money of me. That's the sure way. When a man is-in your debt, he's your slave. You own him body and breeches. You are the cat, he is the mouse.
You let him have a little space to run about in, and he thinks he's going to get away. But you are only playing with him. You can stick out your paw and claw him across the back
wish. So I set about to make them borrow money, and to borrow it of me.
This was not so easy to do as one might think. Because the Company was prosperous. It didn't need any more money. The road was so wonderful an achievement that it was almost a mark of patriotism for the people in that region to patronize it and help it along. It was not only a York State thing, it was an American institution — the first great trunk-line railroad the world had ever
So money flowed in from all sides. Conductors, engineers, brakemen, track-walkers, proud to be working for such a fine and great enterprise, were honest and faithful. No wonder the road paid dividends. This was during the panic of ’57 that I set about to get control of the road. Money everywhere else was tight
- so much suffering, in fact, that the New York Common Council
put labourers to work grading the new Central Park, in order to relieve the distress. And yet, with stocks everywhere else slumping, banks failing, great commercial houses toppling on every side, that very year the young and thrifty Erie Railroad paid no less than eight per cent. dividends. If a road could do that so soon after it was built and while it was getting onto its legs, so to speak, what wouldn't it do when it had settled down to real business? Yes, it did look like a hopeless task, to make a road that was as flourishing as this borrow money of me.
But I was like a steer that smells the clover; he will either find a hole through the line fence, or make one.
This Erie enterprise in my life, let me say right here, got a lot of people to disliking me.
me. “Because,” they said, “before Dan Drew got hold of it, the Erie was one of the best and most thriving properties in the country
America's pride – longest and finest railroad in the world -- the bringer of blessings to all the southern tier of counties in the Empire State. Whereas, when he got through with it,” so these enemies of mine said, “its treasury had been squeezed dry, the road brought to bankruptcy, its rolling stock run down, and the road-bed become a death trap and a taker of human life. And the evil didn't stop with him," so they went on; "for when this Dan Drew finally let go
his clutch on the finances of the road, he had set at work a chain of influences which were to make the road a by-word, and set back the development of a third part
of York State for the space of fifty years. Oh, they ripped it onto me good and hard. I suppose I have put up with such abuse during my life as have few other men that ever lived. But, being of a peaceable disposition, I have forgiven these enemies of mine all the hard things they said. I always turn the other cheek, as it were. cow can get along with short horns; and if, when enemies revile
all manner of evil against you, you don't answer back, but just go on your
you and say
own peaceable way, it sort of takes all the spunk out
, of them; by and by they get over being mad, and stop their mud-throwing. Anyhow, I never did care pea-shucks what people were saying about me. So many have taken a kick at me that if I were tender I suppose I'd be so sore by this time that I couldn't sit down; but my saddle leather, so to speak, has become tough, so that I don't mind their kicks
any The truth is, I was hard pushed for funds when I started in on this Erie business. My fortune had stopped growing. And no matter how much a man has, when he comes to a point where he stops getting richer, he is scared. The panic of '57 had cut off a number of my dividends. I was doing nothing more than holding my own.
I wasn't making any progress. Each night didn't see me any further along towards becoming a rich man than the morning. I wasn't getting ahead. Every man of spirit wants to be getting ahead.
Besides, with this panic year of which I'm now writing, a new state of affairs came about in financial circles. The panic was known as the “Western Blizzard.” It put old fogyism out of date forever
The men who conducted business in the old-fashioned, slow-poke method — the think-ofthe-other-fellow method — were swept away by this panic, or at least were so crippled up that they didn't figure much in the world of affairs afterwards.
A new generation of men came in — a more pushful
a I was one of them. We were men now who went ahead. We did things. We didn't split hairs about trifles. Anyhow, men of thin skin, with a conscience all the time full of prickles, are out of płace in business dickerings. A prickly conscience would be like a white silk apron for a blacksmith. Sometimes you've got to get your hands dirty, but that doesn't mean that the money you make is also dirty. Black hens can lay white eggs. Take that blacksmith. During the day he gets all grimed up. Then at night he washes, and now is as clean as anything. And his money is clean, too. What better kind of man is there than a blacksmith ? It isn't how you get your money but what you do with it, that counts.
Well, as I started to say, I wanted to get the Erie Railroad in my debt. I went about it in this fashion: The road, as I guess I've wrote, went to Piermont, twenty-four miles up the Hudson. They would like to have come straight down to Jersey City. It would have saved that twenty-four mile trip by water, which was so bothersome in winter.
But there, square across the path, was Bergen Hill. The trouble with this hill was, it wasn't a gradual rise that a railroad grade could work up to and over by slow degrees. The Hackensack meadows came smack up to it on one side, and the Hudson shore smack up on the other, with this hill between,