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he surprised me one year by sending to the New York market a pair of oxen which took the prize. We had a big time down in Wall Street when those oxen were led through. One of them was called “Commodore Vanderbilt" and the other, “Daniel Drew." They were all fixed up with flags and trimmings and knickknacks. There was a band of music to lead the procession. When they came by my office, at 30 Broad Street, I looked out of the door and was proud to think I had a son that could raise a pair of cattle like that. Their picture was painted in oil, and is a witness to this day to the fine stock that these York State hills can breed, when a man knows how.
Besides my money and boats and farms, there was something else which made me one of the big men of the country. This was my position in the Street. It's a great thing to be an insider. Even a man with as much money as I, wouldn't have been so big as I was, unless he had been on the inside of the great operating cliques. We were so powerful that even the law couldn't get in and bother us with its technicalities. The London Times had to admit our great power. That paper come out with a howl like this:
The parties concerned have long ago shown that there is no financial iniquity which persons in command of money cannot commit in Wall Street with entire impunity, as regards legal consequence
in the Civil Courts, and very nearly, also, as regards social position.
Of course this London paper was bound to be more or less bitter, and blow about “financial
' iniquity” and such-like. Because the British stockholders in Erie had for a long time back been trying to oust me from control of the road. That is why this sheet of theirs kept slurring me as it did.
But I didn't care. I was on top. At this time in my life, all my eggs had two yolks. Most every deal I went into turned out prosperous. I was as contented as mice in a cheese.
SOMETIMES wish I had stayed in the steamboat business and let Wall Street
alone. I'd have made money in a more steady way and without the risk. Steamboats are not so liable to ups and downs as stocks are. And at this time I was earning from my steamboats alone enough money to have made me in time a man of comfortable means.
But the trouble with business of that kind is, there are so many little things to look after, which keep you on the go well-nigh all the time. Because the profits from a business line are made up of a lot of small profits; and each detail is liable to leak
look out. For instance, there was the one item of the bar, on my steamboats. Going into the bar one day on the steamboat Drew, who should I see there but the Captain of the boat taking a drink. I was going to be mad at first, and stood watching him in order to think what I should do. He stood very cool, finished his glass, put it down, and then paid the bartender a quarter. When I saw that, I wasn't
“Do the employees on the boat pay every time they get anything from the bar?” I asked.
Always,” said he; "at least I do. In fact, Mr. Drew, I find it a very good way to keep in check a natural propensity of mine which might otherwise grow into something inconvenient.” I was glad to know that he always paid; but the incident merely shows the many leaks that could occur in a business as big as this steamboat business of mine, if a fellow were to follow it up as a life pursuit.
Then, also, there is the bother which small business matters bring you. I had a lawsuit hanging over my head for years over the sale of the steamboat, Francis Skiddy. It belonged to the line which went from New York to Troy. I sold it to the People's Line. In reality I was buyer and seller too. Because I owned a controlling interest in both lines, and so could make the seller sell, and the buyer buy. Well, some of the smaller Skiddy stock-holders got mad at the transaction and sued me for damages. Because on the last trip of that boat, just before she was going to be delivered to the People's Line, she ran on a rock off of Statt's Landing, and ripped a hole in her bottom sixteen feet long and three planks wide. This, of course, lowered now by a good deal the ing value of the boat. And yet gave me the thing I wanted out of her, the engine. This was still undamaged, and could now be transferred into another boat, and at a reasonable figure. I had been wanting the Skiddy engine for this other boat a long time back. I gave out that her running on the rocks just at this time when the sale was about to be made, was an accident which I hadn't had anything to do with. But her stock-holders made a big fuss. They went into court and sued me for sixty thousand dollars. The thing dragged and dragged, and now finally the court has made me pay it. It merely shows the vexations of spirit that come when you are in a business line.
a I like Wall Street because you stand a chance of making money there so much faster than you can in the slow-poke ways of regular business. One turn of two or three points in shares will, if you are on the right side and have put out a big enough line, net you as much money in six days as an ordinary business would in six months. By this time I had got so that I knew all the ins and outs of Wall Street. There are trade secrets in every calling. The newcomer is always at a discount compared to the old veteran. I found that many times now I could turn this expert knowledge of mine to account. One morning, I remember, I was riding down to the Street in the carriage of a young stock operator who had taken me in with him, to save paying fare in the Broadway stage. He knew that I was on the inside of some of the big stock-market operations, and he thought he might get some inside tips. I had looked for something of the sort to occur.