tv 2011 Tucson Festival of the Book CSPAN March 13, 2011 5:30pm-7:00pm EDT
expression i give you my word as a biden and it's very important to him. the episode in 1988, 87 actually it was when he was accused of plagiarism, that caught up to him quick because he felt that wasn't him. and in fact one of the reasons i was told by the family that he decided to run for president a second time to deal with that blemish on his career. >> thank you very much for your time. ..
a little over 30,000. when he was five, george washington died. 240 miles away at mount vernon, washington d.c. it took seven days for the news to travel to new york city. it wind cornelius vanderbilt died in 1877 the first telephone had been installed in the white house. during the lifetime of the first taken america moved from being
of world agricultural society to a corporate industrial economy. this colossal change is eliminated by mr. styles in his book about mr. vanderbilt. leading into this conversation is paul hutton, our neighbor from mexico. an eminent historian, professor of history at the university of new mexico, well-known for both scholarly and popular authors. he wrote the award-winning phil sheridan and his army. he also has his jesse james book over there. we will have about 45 minutes of conversation after richard will have a question and answer from the audience. after this presentation the author will be signing in the mad and signing area. if you go out the doors, turn right and head down toward old
maine. books are available right outside the door. >> housekeeping, the festival is free. we have wonderful stimulating presentations like this thanks to folks like simply bits and the university medical center. he sure we thank them. and turn off your cell phones. now, mr. rabin. >> thank you, bill. [applause] t.j. and i would be remiss if we did not think bill and all of the wonderful volunteers here at the tucson festival of books. they just put on an absolutely marvelous book festival, thousands upon thousands of people. of course here you are in this packed room. it is just such a wonderful event, and we are both deeply honored to be here and be a part of it. we are just going to have an informal chat and talk about p.j.'s work, and then we will
open it up for questions at the end. let me start by saying that as a biographer myself, someone who thought that i actually knew how to write and have some potential to be a writer, after reading your vanderbilt book as well as your jesse james book, but especially, i think, the vanderbilt book, i have to now go into therapy. [laughter] it is just, just beautifully written. never could i imagine that so many deals could be made so exciting and so fascinating. and i love your organizing principle. how did you decide on using the contest over vanderbilt will when he died as the sort of on trade and then sort of talking point all the way through the book. i thought it was very cinematic and it worked well.
>> before i answer the question i really want to thank everybody for being here. i also want to say hi to my 3-year-old son and dylan if my wife has had in front of the tv. you can go back to playing with action figures now. i also want to say briefly to everybody that this is a spectacular festival. after some of the recent events the nation should be reminded that when they think of the name tucson this is the thing that they should think of. one of the best book festivals in our country. [applause] a real civic spirit and a really wonderful book loving and thriving community. it is an honor to be asked to be here. and also, you know, you have met your aspirations as a writer. it is pretty wonderful to be here with you also. your work i have admired so much.
this question of setting up vanderbilt's long live through the trial over his will, you know, it's starting off with of long life. i've put together a book that is at least a couple of times wondered that i actually originally intend to write. i kept saying, i'm not going to buy the door stopper, and vanderbilt kept pushing me saying, i did this, this, this. his life is so packed with events. he did so much, and he had such a rich and complicated family life as well. he was a part of the changing society but high society and american society. so much calling on, that i felt i have to introduce it to the reader in some way. the trial over his will when he died in 1877, he left $100 million. i provide a comparison in my book. i don't give modern equivalent amounts because i don't think that's honest.
the economy was not just smaller, but it was very different. i do a compare his wealth to the stock of circulating money, and i did that with bill gates just before the crash of 08 and the financial meltdown. if bill gates could have sold his entire estate when he was the wealthiest man in the world at full market value for cash to american buyers, impossible, but a little fought experiment, he would have taken one out of every $138 in circulation would have gone into his bank account. it vanderbilt could have done the same using the cash and point and demand deposits in circulation at the time of his death he would have taken one out of $20. that is not an exact equivalent, but it gives you an idea of how fast the scale of wealth was. he left 95% to his oldest sun. he had it i think at the time of his death nine other surviving
children. you would think would know, but there are some many things to remember. [laughter] well, one of his daughters -- and his children inherited his strength of will. one of his daughters thought somehow that was not fair. she started the trial, and it was the trial of the century. she had to prove that he was not essentially in his right mind and was under undue influence or was not competent. it was a fight to define the commodore, as he was known, the wealthiest man in the country, the most powerful man other than the president in the country, i think it's fair to say. yet who he was was at stake. he had a fight over his wife, over his strength of will, over who was. i thought, this is a great way to open up because it really sets out the stakes. it set out the way in which people try to shape their view
of him and argue over who he was. it allows me to say he did this, this, this, and this and people are fascinated for good reason. >> and a beautiful opening talking about the crowds massing in the courthouse the can to learn the secrets. >> that's right. >> and much later in the book the opening line is they came to tell his secrets. there is a duty to that simplicity. >> and you very much. you also talk about geography in a fascinating way. it really does define his life, although he does take the trip to europe, go down to central america, but for the most part he is there, really there. he begins in staten island and winds up in s.i. the areas. , of course. you talk so brilliantly about how geography defined his life. and again, i thought just as, you know, for those who want to write and those who think a lot about writing, it was a
wonderful organizing principle. not only the jet geography of his life but the nation's life. >> i'm glad to hear you say that. the question of geography is a national -- natural one since he spent his entire career in transportation. for 19th century united states transportation was one of the greatest challenges. for example, one reason why bourbon and american whiskey became a big deal is that before the railroad, before the eureka now, if you were even after the erie canal, if you were a farmer across the appellations when most of the population was east you had to find a cost effective way of converting your crops into something you could sell. instead of shipping raw grain you could distilled whiskey. the price per pound shaped
america's drinking habits because farmers could make a lot more money by the very expensive shipment of goods over the appellations. the whole question of not but movement of people but could dominated american life. so vanderbilt, by going into transportation was during much the heart of not only the economy, transportation was the biggest segment. the heart of the debates over quality and the will of government in the economy because of the corporation becoming a large economic player, especially in real rooms. it became the center of that political debate. then, of course, the share movement of people and good. his wife is wrapped up with the rise and changing shape of the american landscape. for example, the industrial revolution, when it kicks off in new england the financial and
shipping center is still in new york. he shifts his route from between new york and that. canal and then shifts his shipping lines to new york to new england. then when the california gold rush started and man who, like you said, spent almost his entire life in new york city and yet he becomes an interval part of the rise of the pacific west becoming a major figure with his shipping line that had a transit route across piragua and the rise of california. and, of course, the middle west ride was a very much part of his girl wrote life because getting from new york to chicago with an integrated railroad line was one of the great business braces after the civil war. geography was a natural focus, and yet it still speaks to the life of the nation in the 19th century. it doesn't just mean filling up the frontier. it means the rise of industry,
the changing shape of where people got things from. the country this changing shape. vanderbilt's life is wrapped up in the changes. >> interesting because our country is so large. when you think about american character in its early days and it is first warming and how easy it would have become for the nation to become balkanized, and it almost was in the civil war which will talk about in a moment. vanderbilt wages for his entire life against the tyranny. he wins. what he does is in no way holding the nation together. >> and he has a very conscious minds that about that during the civil war and after as well. >> at think that is very true. it is very interesting that one of our defining characteristics, i think, has a national culture today is competitiveness.
you know, from the conservative to the liberal side, the idea of competing and being better and women is very much a part of the american character. you see this become a central feature of american life and the jacksonian era and vendor build is up-and-coming and competition is the heart of what he talks about, advertising, public speeches. his letter build -- letters to the press. he talks about, i have made my fortune through free competition. he would say, if i can't run the steam ship alongside someone for 25% less than the other guy i should go out of business. speed is essential, and the idea of being faster than your competitor, and the idea of speed, americans are fascinated. people would write letters and books talking about how they were on a steamboat. everyone was on deck as the were racing the rival steamboat going neck and neck.
which railroad line is the fastest, the pennsylvania and vendor build new york central had a competition to see who could run an express train. of course the steamship lines during the 1850's between california and new york, you know, who could shave one day of the trip had an advantage. of course a huge effect on people, especially before the telegraph crossed the, mint. if you were buying and selling tickets, lee and san francisco one day difference made a difference to you financially. if you're shipping gold to the bank, you are a financial house in sent from cisco and your shipping go to new york each day in transit costs you money. this is -- speed is at the center of americans since of life. the thrill of speed is really important. >> and it comes through in the book. i hope everyone reads this book.
when you do i think you will pick up on the idea of how much of who we are today forming during this time. it seems such a different time, and yet it's all the issues of still the same. davy crockett, who i've done some work on and you give the catch phrase to vanderbilt, the whole era of life, go ahead. the whole idea. where the train. hard to believe, but he did. he spat his tobacco out the window. it came back and slapped him right in the face. he was deeply impressed. the country is moving. free trading equal rights. he used it in his struggles with the old elites. i think you make such a compelling case of the eyes of this new american aristocracy against the old proprietor class and merchant class that was the
revolutionary generation. they were the right people to run society. vanderbilt challenges them in a significant way. >> this is significant because fender bill is someone who is so often used in a prompt end to the logical arguments the with you should have regulation of robber barons or regulation of free market. i try to avoid making it the logical argument. there is an historical account. very important because to do that much of his life, the economy is different. the way people thought about these questions, it was a different world. for example, lays a share, the idea of limited one no government regulation today is considered a conservative idea. in vanderbilt's time it was a radical idea because he did not have large corporations.
the economy was flatter. they fought of government intervention and the economy being chartering a corporation back when a corporation required a special act of state legislature. the were not that many of them. the radicals said, no, let us all be a nation of individuals with everyone equal. vendor build came of age at that time when you have an older elite, many in new york, almost british style landed gentry. and vanderbilt was up and coming in the mid 80 20's new york state required one level of property to be able to vote for the state assembly. you had to have a higher level to vote for governor. they had a hierarchical view. vanderbilt was pulling that apart. by being a competitor he was saying the older elites, no, you have to fight it out. if you want to be on top you have to earn that honestly.
the idea of the radical view overturning the older establishment requires us to get out of our minds that of the way we think of the economy today. by the end of his life he created some of the first giant corporations. he still has the same view. you're beginning to see people saying, now we need the government to come in and regulate large corporations. he starts to change the political dynamic. my approach isn't to say this is good or bad but to look at the world and see this man's effect. we are still having emergence of the argument people had about vendor build at the end of his life and devout use he helped shape in the beginning of his life. >> the really does represent in the business world of jacksonian democracy and the political sphere. you make a wonderful perot a comparison between what is going on in american political life
and what is going on in american business life. of course it has both positive and negative connotations. that is in keeping with the business radicalism, but at the same time it leads to a panic and destruction. it rebuilds from that. everything that vanderbilt the spears into the destruction and reconstruction going on. he seems to profit destruction and. >> yes. this goes to the conundrum late in life. they called him the robert kane. the country was very broad of being a republican. it wasn't necessarily a good thing. late in life he took over new york's central and is creating a railroad empire and was fighting for control of the railroad that connected his line to chicago, the newly formed real road.
his great rival for control was jiggled. vanderbilt had a lot of stock. his rival was in the company. grand lockwood made a deal to allied lakeshore with cold. he bought a lot of stock on margin. they shared the collateral for the purpose. he needed the price to remain high. vendor build said high -- fine. he waited until the fall when the harvest and what was still an agricultural economy trained the credit in new york. stop -- stock prices stopped rising and all at once he threw his stock, market. at the same time they're trying to corner the market and it helped cause a panic. the stock price collapsed. his enemy had to sell out his stock and to meet his margin. vanderbilt went outside the u.s.
market, borrowed money, brought back his own stock and reduced prices, bought back the walk woodstock, bankrupt and an opponent, profited in the stock market, get control of the major river in needed, and now he had to do was help cause a major financial panic. such was his power that he was able to go in and then stop the panic by personally showing up on wall street and san, you know, buying shares of stock visibly. one broker said i knew it. the old brad never deserts his friends, which is kind of that ambivalence. very much the way the people fought and. he heard a lot of people in carrying out his operation. he would compete against a rival and drive them out of business. at the same time he ended up creating an integrated, very efficient, low-cost railroad
network. so you see in vanderbilt's life the destructive consequences of these business conflicts often on innocent people, innocent shareholders who bought stock because it thought it was a good investment. at the same time the nation hopes by, more efficient low-cost bill road network. at vanderbilt exemplifies those problems that competitive business economy, you get this creation and destruction, creation and destruction. that is vanderbilt to a tee. >> what he did with transportation came to my mind as i was boarding my southwest airlines flight to come from albuquerque to tucson crammed like a sardine. i was amongst all of the traveling class of america which is now everybody. a could not help but reflect in reading your book. the gentry of new york were just horrified but the modes of transportation and the price at
vanderbilt was provided because the crate, wash was coming aboard. i was thinking back to when i started flying as a young student and everyone wore coats and ties. pan am was the great airline. well, that is all gone, but so are five and $600 chairs and everyone gets to travel. >> it's democracy in transportation. >> the competition driving down costs. pleasant, but it opens up to a lot of people. i have the exact same reaction when i started to find accounts. philip hone the was awake and former mayor of new york trading in the diary complaining about the riffraff, you know, the bobtail saying it would be better to sail between the new work and albany and take five days. he said when will the people rise up and put an end to this? it showed that radicalism, the
way that the older settled elite did not like fighting for their position or sharing amenities with other people, the broad mass of people. but then you read the complaints about vanderbilt's cut rates steamship line to california. you know, you see that, you know, it wasn't always, you know, first class travel. cut rates, just like cramming aboard a plane, you could travel unpleasantly. >> i think low-cost airlines today certainly have never stranded s in a fever infested jumble tall with our own muscle power steamboat up over the rapids into a lake in nicaragua, which is what vanderbilt's company certainly did. and then on one occasion i love the idea, and you talk about the so cleverly. he knows that there is no transport from the pacific side of the california but still
takes people down because he will make a profit on dumping them in nicaragua and leaving them. what a guy. >> 1850's. again, this you know, i try to give full play to the different sides of vanderbilt, to be sympathetic and try to understand him as a person, which means shelling where he was not a jerk and also showing how hard and tough he was. this example is a wonderful case of a discovery in research. i happened upon the old records division of the new york county clerk's office during my research, not very well used by historians in the past. they have all the surviving civil lawsuits in this chamber up above in the circuit court building if you watched law and order you would recognize the interior. they use it often in their set for interior scenes.
it is amazing. the stories that come out of these lawsuits, it was a secretive world in the 19th century. net transparency requirements imposed by government. and businessmen -- and businessman sued each other in these stories would come out. it was in north america. a steamboat he had on the pacific ran aground, wrecked. he sent his son and law to go and try and charter new ships, but meanwhile he had a ship full of passengers who had already bought tickets in new york. he said well, if i hold the ship and don't let its sale of will have to refund all the money. he explained this to one of the passengers to came back. we were stuck in nicaragua, a country with malaria and no hotels, a jumble country, very undeveloped. well, i calculated that it would be cheaper for me to settle with anyone in came back than to hold back the ship and refund the
tickets. he said it openly, i did the math. you know, he has created this transit route which helps california, makes everything cheaper, forces the established line to cut their rate, and yet, he was able to create this cut rate line because he had this ferociously hard headed and sometimes totally ruthless business you. his business competition was sort of in a larger sense helping the country. in many specific cases it's hurting a lot of people because that same mindset that says the ship of does not tell them that they will be stranded for a while. >> and your fare in the biography and don't fall into the trap of falling in love with your character. or coming to hit them. by the time i was done with phil sheridan i was having a tough time spending any more time with
him. i was happy to kill him. [laughter] but you describe vanderbilt as a predator. when i was done with his biography and i actually liked him. part of the reason was the quality of the enemies he made. you may think he's bad, but look at the other guys. they are really pieces of work. you describe them as a predator. he was drawn to the scent of the sec can't vulnerable. he even has that hawkish, beaked face. you are wonderful in your description. a very strong, large man. so he looks like a wolf, especially with his large whiskers coming down. he was, of course, the original robber baron in america made so famous and american writing, and i love how he was such a fierce competitor that people would pay
him just to go away. >> that was a marvelous business strategy. you just look at them. you just look at people and they run away. he just looked at his business competitors and they said, how much can we pay you not to compete with us. >> that is actually -- this is billy fascinating. that first use of the robber baron metaphor was for vanderbilt. they compared him to the old german parents. it was an article by the new york times. the editor, henry james raymond was an old break. more conservative, and they tended to look at competition. a lot, not all, but certain weeds fought competition, a young country with business and capital and competition destroys it. this is a respectable view. he had that view. he criticized vanderbilt because
for a while during this whole the wrong or route to california during this decade of the 1850's he was locked out of nicaragua by this filibuster, william walker who took over the country. .. eliminated their profits and the end up creating a shared monopoly. but during the process, during the period he was getting paid off "the new york times" compared him with the german robert perrin's who charge a toll from all passengers on the
run it to say i will bombard you if you don't pay me every time you go by. bye charging a fee for not competing they were saying basically taking money from everybody that had a business in california with it goes there. but what is interesting is two things. one, he was called the robert baron not because he was a monopolist that becomes the leader meaning of the term who crushes the competitors and uses market power to dominate the world. he was the upstart. criticized for competing and the same argument criticized competition for competitions sake. which crowds out the so-called legitimate enterprises, so called. he believed they were legitimate enterprises and upstarts who shouldn't be competing. the other thing is vanderbilt what's interesting about that is vanderbilt defended himself and he basically thought it's my right as a competitor we should
be able to settle the disputes as we see fit. the harper's weekly defended him from this charge saying every time vanderbilt competes he lowers prices permanently in that market and they solve the pursuit of self-interest was a part of competition, that freedom to pursue your interest was inseparable from the idea of free competition but later on when he becomes a real road there in he helps create cartels because the steamships are fixed pieces of infrastructure so they are constantly trying to stop destructive retek war cutting into the profits and recently driving them into bankruptcy so vanderbilt goes from an exemplar of competition to being a creator of cartels and to him is the same thing, the pursuit of self-interest is what competition is a part of and he sees no conflict. he doesn't realize other people would see a conflict once you
have the appropriations. it's fascinating i try to pick apart the way they thought was a different way today about the economy. >> it mixes well with vanderbilt the whole concept of fate. he's one of the grand heaters and history that fits perfectly with andrew jackson and he would use his business power even if he felt he might suffer financially simply to destroy enemies who later in life he seemed to have a sense of admiration for as worthy opponents. s. >> this is something that i had a conversation with c-span, kevin baker a great novelist and he compared vanderbilt to the godfather. it's just business. it's not personal. so one example of this is again, the episode when william walker, this american adventure took over the country of nicaragua in 1855 and 56 and he blocks out
vanderbilt and gives the transit rights actually it's a long story but basically the transit rights to carry passengers across nicaragua, go to the man who had been working in vanderbilt's company and his partner. so vanderbilt literally goes to war against them. walker was getting reinforcements, young men are excited by this that venture taking over nicaragua so thousands of young men are trying to get to nicaragua to fight the army so vanderbilt since i have to drive out walker and cut off the transit line. they go to pour makarov looker's government and the coaster ricans agree the commander force. and i found a council national archive, the first-person account from the time of how he led vanderbilt's men had led them on the raft down the jungle river and how they surprised and captured the steamboats and end up taking over the san juan
river which is the route to which the transit route goes and reinforcement comes from. it's a fascinating and venture story in the middle of this business conflict. and vanderbilt ends up not being able to open the route showing how far he will go to punish his enemies because his enemy has been lost tons of money in the transit route collapsed. even the extent of waging the shooting war taking part of the shooting war illustrates that quality that people knew if you cross vanderbilt you were in for it. and it becomes legendary. yet cornelius barras and ends up being one of vanderbilt's partners later in life, and they were pals and close friends. this is a common pattern. but the one exception was jay gould. gould of the war 1868 which is the subject of the book and and of itself, the struggle of the one freeway vanderbilt came to hate jay gould so much that at
some point a reporter asked if he was involved in jay gould and 1872i think in the stock market and he got up and starts yelling he's a damned villain and he yells about that and then when the reporter is going down the steps he comes down and says remember he is a villain. [laughter] and its own characteristic of him he would go to the wall in the business battle and usually because this is business they would be friends. jay gould is a great exception. >> will occur in southern front of a firing squad. you are pretty rough on who the gray-eyed man of destiny as he was not time. you see him as an international criminal. >> and there are national to the people who really admired william walker. but i think this is -- you know, he's fascinating. walker was the most successful of the whole group of filibusters' they called him
which i believe is where the term for the u.s. senate speech comes from. there was a campaign in 1850 of the freelance adventures trying to conquer parts of latin america and attach them to the u.s.. if you think about it it's not that unreasonable. texas was basically a freelance operation. the american settlers occupied texas and broke away from mexico. when the mexican war berkhout come california salles the rise of american settlers with participation. this was something that actually was a part of the american history. but in the 1850's you had these kind of organized expeditions. cuba and mexico and nicaragua, and walker wasn't even trying to attach nicaragua to the united states. he saw himself as the napoleon of the late 19th century. and he felt he was going to set up an empire of his own. frankly he was a terrible
general. i think the facts show that. i think that he was ruthless of the people of nicaragua. the city of granada for example was founded in the 16 twenties, 100 years before the pilgrims grow corn and vanderbilt, excuse me, walker burned it to the ground and had his men pack up a sign on the outskirts saying fear was granada, no more. and walker really is not, personally not someone to be admired. and americans of the time are badly divided. the lead up to the civil war and you can see the argument about him and keeping with the argument that led up to americans killing each other. vanderbilt has to effect for the freelance on the foreign policy the presidential administration by civil strife they had
essentially no function for the policies of the did it himself. >> shivers indy 500 khedives and secretary war. he thought he was a great thing. >> i love the irony of vanderbilt as part of what one of the characters of your book calls a mushroom aristocracy. that is a particularly telling commentary. people were just mortified that now family connection really didn't have anything to do with the position in society any more because people like vanderbilt and their enormous wealth and so for the longest time he was sustained. and he was kind of a rauf individual any way at times. but now of course the vanderbilt name in america is the name of old money aristocracy. so, anderson cooper on cnn is
probably the most famous vanderbilt in the public eye today. the name still resonates. >> it's interesting because this is another part of the story that i try to bridge through the book. his personal family, and also the social standing and the way that reflected this change. vander velt was born you had a social standing in america mostly from your family heritage. and again, you know, the property of land owning especially gave you status and during the 18 twenties, 1830's as the economy becomes more competitive, as those old property owning requirements for owning voting in public office are wiped out and start to see competition for social standing. and the newspaper reports from the resort towns like saratoga springs talk about how everybody is fighting for and who is more preeminent and complaining every base complaining about everybody
else for their parents or nobody. that is particularly true of everyone. and this idea that everybody is scrapping for social standing the same way they are for business is fascinating. and vanderbilt goes from being a guy that literally got into fistfights, a man who was derided as aliterate and porsche, vulgar and offensive, by a credit report in the 1850's slowly, very slowly gained social the acceptance. spending every summer at saratoga springs. he circulates with a more educated and he's totally uneducated. more uneducated and polished glass. at the end of his life, you know, we know from newspaper reports and from letters he wrote in his own hand who misspelled every word and yet he would write a very formal note. he was described as being dignified. this is a very slow process. it takes on the dignity that is given him. finally at the end of his life i found fascinating newspaper article that said vanderbilt led
off in the opening wall of saratoga springs. well, you know, ten or 20 years earlier this would have been unheard of. that process is helped along by his second wife who after, you know, many decades of marriage to his first cousin, sophia vanderbilt, he married another more distant cousin from the south. though she wasn't from money, she had polished, dignity and southern charm. and she very carefully brought her husband more directly in the social life and places like saratoga springs. and it's a fascinating process, but it takes on a different dimension with his son and grandchildren who take on that great building campaign building the great vanderbilt mansion. in the mansion you've been to whether it's rhode poured ryland or height park of new york, those are built by grand children or great grandchildren.
he lived in a stone house of washington square, and you see the way they would contrast the old money verses the new who are building mansions on fifth avenue and the patricians are looking down their noses at them. that transitions within vanderbilt's own family between himself and his son who starts building the campaign. so it's interesting. the guy truly was from the docks. by the end of his life he's much more keeping with the old gentry the and his children are and they create a new gentry, new aristocracy that's all about ostentation in that lifestyle. >> and of course that is his social standing increase. his family life implodes. i was particularly fascinated by the fact that his wife whom he kept pregnant every year almost of her life finally goes into the change of life as they called it in those days and i guess about a little moodie and sends her off to an asylum.
>> yes, that seemed a little rough. >> in looking at vanderbilt -- and i certainly start off with a view that he was a horrific with his family and a lot of the assumptions historians have had come and i really looked at what the evidence was. it nuanced my understanding of him and it certainly i still felt he was a very hard father and husband all the way through his life. and yet, the reality was more complicated. his first wife said about his attitude towards his second son who was a gambling addict and would have frustrated and infuriated and stressed out any parent she described his attitude as inconsistency. he would go from cutting them off and being angry to encouraging him and reaching out to him. and so what that says is not vanderbilt was a wonderful man and totally changing the historical picture. it means he was a human being, contradictory, complicated. he had soft emotions as well as
hard emotions. the case with his wife was in 1846 and one of the reasons we know about it is that his son-in-law, daniel allen, testified about it in the trial. and by that point in his life he had been alienated from the commodore, he no longer like him, you know, even before his death and yet he admitted she had real nervous trouble as they put it, she really had problems. so in the 19th century it wasn't just a matter of confining her getting her out of sight that's when you did with somebody comes and then with an asylum, the was the standard treatment. and one of the reasons that has been given for it is that he was having an affair with the government and wanted to ride away. i thought that was true. but when i looked into it it turns out it's hard to tell whether he had an affair with her or not. they were going on carriage rides together and he was very fond of her. so i never was able to answer that question of was he having
an affair. he's very well might have been. what was interesting to me is what i did know. the fact that he asked one of his daughters to write to her which she was a governess and have her come back. he didn't do it himself. and this is a pattern lysol in his life. this man of force, man of wealth who had a private war in the business before and yet when it came to the emotional life, he had real trouble navigating the emotional waters of his life. so he delegated this emotional response of the depue he wanted his daughter to figure out a way to fix it because he had no idea how to use it. the man used to giving orders. was he mean to his wife? sometimes yes, sometimes no. was he having an affair? possibly. i don't know. what i do know is it is another piece in the puzzle of how difficult it was for him to manage his emotional relationships. so as a biographer i do set out to completely change emotional
picture of who he was. but being true to the evidence and keeping an open ear of with the evidence says i found something different from what i thought i would find. this picture of somebody is kind of up to see when it comes to emotional life and again, you know, it complicates the picture rather than reversing it. >> and when his first wife dies he's devastated >> he heard from saratoga springs and was rushed by a private train. spends the 24 hours of her death bed. definitely. >> i wanted to talk briefly about jesse james before we open up for questions, and obviously you love them both because of railroads. i suppose you must have a toy train set as a child. but i would be remiss in talking about the first tycoon, clever title which i assume is a plea on fitzgerald. >> i thought it was very clever.
>> my editor and i both thought it independently. >> it's true. it's true, yes. >> of course winning the national book award as it did must have been a great gratification to you and then of course he went on to win the pulitzer prize. not just for all of us because we can only dream about this year call, get a letter, how does this wonderful news of life? >> i have to say i really feel that i'm very fortunate because as i've said before my book had been left off the list finals there would have been no mobs in the street for justice. there's a lot of good nonfiction books that year. i'm very fortunate. and the national book award it's an award given like the oscars at a ceremony. the juries meet the day of the
ceremony and decide which of the finalists win and it's a total surprise to everyone but the jury. so it was a shock. the whole thing was stunning and it is a very emotional moment for me actually and nine friends with the winner of the fiction prize that year as well so it was a really incredible evening. >> the a pulitzer was like someone walking up to you on the street having you on the shoulder and say you won the lottery. >> they publicly announced the pulitzer prize finalist and winners of the once publicly. there's no advanced call, no advance warning. i just picked up my son who was then 2-years-old from preschool and stripped him in his car seat, myself phone rang, i answered and it was my editor. he said you've won the pulitzer
prize. you're kidding. i can't believe it. and my son had fallen asleep. totally unimpressed. [laughter] >> it continues all the way through. >> i'm sure. >> so then it was a month later to have the ceremony where they present the award of the columbia journalism school, and was a month of it being on real. i spent seven years in this book and its inside my head a deeply personal experience. you talk about it to someone and see their eyes glaze over. [laughter] now just having somebody say i read your book and i enjoyed it or i hated it but just the idea somebody else read this book what are you doing in my head? it is always a surprising experience for me. and so that's why again, i love talking to the audiences and getting questions because it is just a gift when somebody reads
your work and it's always a gift. even people who have criticisms, i appreciate it. i've thought about my book and read it and i do appreciate it. [laughter] >> you're other book is jesse james, last rubble of the civil war, and i just saw robert, the dean of western historians about an hour and a half ago and he was telling me how wonderful he felt this book was and that it was a triumph, and what they did of course a full body biography though that also finds the era just like you did with vanderbilt, and it's a masterwork of history and i've not heard a bad word about it. although some people felt you were a little hard on jesse and don't treat him as a social banded and you call him a terrorist. >> what i say with jesse james is that in some ways, and i finished the book before
september 11th that cannot a few months later some people thought i was jumping on the bandwagon or something by no means i think that in some ways when we think about it it's helpful to think about him as an early forerunner of his broad spectrum that we call terrorism in the sense that he was in it for the money clearly as an outlaw he distinguished himself from other out loss by deliberately seeking public notoriety. in fact using his violence. occasionally he would target people for it the logical reasons. he usually targeted them for financial reasons that he would use his nutter ayittey to write letters to the press and he allied himself with the newspaper editor to promote the cause of former confederates and he was from this very badly divided state of misery which had a civil war within the civil war and he spent his entire civil war as a guerrilla
fighting others not invading yankees but fellow missouri. so after the war living in misery in the border states, he freely again was a part of this conflict between local people over the meaning of the civil war and its consequences to be and so his self identity was as a confederate, and he was never discussed in terms of antireal rude populism, agrarian populism and people talk about that time. >> during his lifetime is what i focus on. because people -- jesse james was a cold-blooded murderer took part in the outright atrocities especially during the civil war. and yet he also could be charming and funny and there is a reason why he was popular as well. for example, late in life when he moved back to his old homestead or that area in
western missouri, st. joseph missouri and he went down to the train station and applied for work saying he had a lot of experience in the train work. [laughter] he was funny. that's the kind of guy he was. he would perform during train robberies especially in the most of the people we know he killed after the civil war were unarmed and helpless and tied up so he's not having a main street showdown. he's tired of people shooting. so that amazingly to cited personal become of the ruthless killer and the road, that's jesse james, and the people who like the charming rogue part didn't like my stress on the ruthless killer part. since he's such a figure of american culture i can understand why. >> you are returning to the frontier for your next project which is about one of my favorite americans.
i think next crockett general custer is my favorite. that doesn't mean i love him, just he's a pretty interesting fellow. >> exactly. that idea that you have to be for or against someone. as long as they are interesting that's what's important. and making them interesting. as a matter of fact sometimes the rogues are more interesting than the good guys. and custer is someone who covers the same period and is much more after the civil war much of a frontier figure than jesse james. jesse james fits into the definition of western by the 19th century standards easily but, you know, he lived in places like tennessee and traveled to atlanta and mississippi he saw himself as a part of the north and south conflict more than the west as a region though that is very important to that definition is important. custer really when you get more
into the frontier experience, and as many great western historians, you know, flexible heather richardson has done this with a couple of books, the western history is very interesting these days and integrating it into the history of the rest the country. pyrrophyte picks and the indifference to yourself and others out of respect for the work on it, not out of the sense i'm going to set the record straight and show all of you. i would like to integrate and maybe i should put it this way, highlight the way in which his life was not the bna array of changes after the civil war and to stress for example his time in kentucky on the reconstruction. the kind of interesting nature of the relationship he and his wife had with the east gate sleeves of elijah brown who was their family servant and the interesting internal dynamics and family relationships that reflect the emancipation and these other struggles.
he was a friend of the famous actors and left to go to plays on broadway and was a popular magazine writer, national news media he was trying to make a go with it on wall street. here is a man taking part of the conflict with american indians in the west. his life eliminates all of the changes after the civil war. so it's not is he a good guy or bad guy story. the want to bring out all of the complexity, you know, the struggles we still have over him and his role. really i want to look at him as an exemplary figure and what americans are struggling with after the civil war. >> after reading the first tycoon and jesse james, i can't wait to read your biography. >> if you have a question we just have a couple of minutes left if anybody has a question. don't forget it is the signing area by old maine right after this. we have two minutes to go. >> thank you very much.
both of them are fascinating and i think a big part of this writing is primary sources. and it's just amazing how a lot of these authors, yourself included, find these treasures like the civil records of new york courts. how do you get a process for that, do you get informants or go out there and find out what are all the other sources? >> i think it helps to give yourself time to be lucky because the more attention to follow-up the more surprises you will encounter the real arguments are important. libraries and archives especially are under tremendous budget pressure and yet, you know, collections don't process themselves. donors loved the earnings on buildings and they don't like to hire three artists to go through collections and record with their. they are wonderful but helping find these things, and you owe the debt to what other people have written. you start with the and notes of
what other people have done. looking at custer for example i have been reading paul's great work on the army and he talks about the papers in chicago and here is a guy that wasn't serving alongside custer and directly and there's lots of material talking about him, dealing with him and his court-martial. okay, so i know from his book i've got to go look at these things and hopefully i will find things i didn't even know about that were there. so it's a lot of diligence, a lot of falling of the leaves and being willing to follow dividends. >> one more question. >> what you think vanderbilt's prescription would be for the u.s. economy today? >> this is where i get into trouble. he would definitely say that we should get lots and lots of money to biographers. i think it's pretty clear. [laughter]
this is a difficult question because vanderbilt, one of the fascinating things is he was nonpartisan even though he had political beliefs he was non-partisan. and his primary thing was, you know, as long as the rules are the same for everyone, and again, railroads are controversy also the individual railroads often have special restrictions on this railroad without one. and he hated that. he said mechem general and if i can't compete on the simply infield, then, you know, then i shouldn't be in business. in today's world it's not just the national state or the national planning field. it's a global, and that complicates the picture. succumbing and, in i can't give you vanderbilt's prescription. he was generally leave me alone and let me settle my own affairs. and yet he wasn't out campaigning against rules being made. he just said make sure they are equal and if they are equal i can compete with the best of them and so that was his
attitude. and even, you know, he even proposed during the panic of 1873 the treasury step in and increase liquidity by releasing currency reserves which is basically what we call quantitative easing today, not quite the same but the idea of adding more cash into the market, increase liquidity. he went to the treasury secretary and said you should put millions more cash out from the treasury to help with liquidity. so he wasn't an ideologue. he wouldn't say he was pragmatic even though he had basic beliefs about laissez-faire. that's what i would say. >> t.j. stiles come thank you so much. [applause] and again mr. stiles will be signing and the madden signing area. thank you all for coming. [inaudible conversations]
paul hutton and a pulitzer prize-winning author t.j. stiles. book tv live coverage from the third annual tuscon festival of the books will return in about half an hour with the final event of the day. after the break, kate kenski and kevin call will discuss the 2008 presidential election, politics and religion. more from tuscon coming up shortly. this is booktv. you are watching book tv on c-span2. 48 hours of nonfiction authors and books every weekend. thank you very much, lionel. and thank you all for joining me today. my name is june fisher, as he just told you. i am the granddaughter of henry goldman. if you were expecting a see all and tell all about how goldman sachs mix all of that money
until recently to keep its hands clean i'm afraid you will be disappointed. my book, when money was in fashion, which i have somewhere, was recently published by palgrave macmillan. it is a biography and memoir of my grandfather who was the son of the founder, marcos before farmer from the tiny village who came to the states in the great immigration wave of 1848. henry goldman revolutionized the financial world by developing a modern method of financing for commerce and industry which today is known as the ipo. when there were no pcs, no internet, no e-mail or even adding the scenes business was developed solely with talent,
imagination and dreams he became america's first investment banker. yet he guarded his life so jealously he remained an enigma to the thousands of people whose lives he influenced and the many hedge fund managers and traders who worked at the firm today cannot even place his name. he was responsible for the unusual underwriting of more than 50 of the country's most successful publicly owned corporations including general cigar, sears roebuck, the underwood typewriter company, many department stores, studebaker, was worth, peabody, and the brown shoe company. and all of the board of directors without. he was also a collector of major
renaissance art. the patron of the outstanding classical musicians such as the red brick and physicists among them albert einstein, auto and max born and it in an advisor to the banking world and of the u.s. and germany before and after world war i. and the philanthropist who rescued many jewish intellectuals from germany in the 1930's. remarkably many of the achievements for which he was notable while he was losing his sight. henry was 28 when he was invited to join goldman sachs. ten years passed since his father marcus had him aside after he dropped out of harvard and hired his sister as his assistant. marcos and sam's father joseph a
schoolmaster had been friends since their school days in germany. and this is the second marriage which had taken place between the sons and daughters of two families. henry had undoubtedly anticipated if anyone were to be offered the job it would be hurt and disappointed and decided to accept an offer to join the firm as a salesman. as it turned out the experience provided him with an education far beyond what he might have achieved at harvard. for the first time when he was traveling salesman he was able to see the mom-and-pop stores, small-town banks, the machine shops through the countryside. and perhaps to individualize a financial structure that could transform them into the building will blocks of the economy.
a year-and-a-half later marcus goldman personally accrued over $100,000 in capital and was turning over a 30 million a year. he was so overloaded with work and pleased with his performance that he offered to let him by a partnership for $25,000. from then on the business was known as goldman sachs and company and for almost 50 years, the partners were member of the families. the major force of the assets was tied up in the firm providing working capital as well as savings. marcos also agreed no one was allowed to withdraw money from the firm without making a formal petition to the senior partners and all the partners need to be in agreement before making investments on behalf of the firm. and so it remained until goldman went public 100 years later and totally changed its face.
when henry joined the firm he was named a junior partner and by then to the position of senior partner and adding insult to injury how your his brother harry and his three sons as brokers. soon after he made them junior partners. this infuriated henry who was by now married and the father of three small children. he viewed the imbalance of power and money has for early on just at least to which he held fast to marcus dhaka and he became the leader with his brother-in-law. by that time he was 43. there were signs of trouble brewing from then on for he and sam were polar opposites in every way and couldn't reach agreement on anything except the preservation of the firm's good name. rather than having a civilized
conversations in an attempt to reconcile the differences, there were heated arguments, name-calling and shouting matches all day long. it is surprising the firm survived let alone that right but thrive it did with saddam frequently traveling to london seeking to expand goldman's trade and currency exchange and henry becoming an extremely successful speculator. so successful he wanted goldman sachs to underwrite new railroad issues. he never foresaw the firms would have a virtual lock on the railroad's finances would resent into the territory and offer to buy out his investments instead. and the brother julias, goldman sachs attorney recommended henry investigate other avenues for the business and avoid rocking the boat.
the firm oliver wall street had a vote of thanks for the turned on resulted in henry identifying a groundbreaking investment opportunity in this, defectors and retailers who were turning to wall street for capital to expand. he persuaded his good friends whose family for the country's leading cotton brokers to join them in the underwriting issues in the firm's and turning them into the first publicly owned companies in america. goldman sachs would come up clients and lehman with the sons of his family's fortunes from the commodities market to provide the money. the two houses would share the profit 5050. they sealed the deal with a handshake and once the agreement was finalized based on need to figure out how to price than the security's.
it should be valued with earning power the rate they turned over and generated cash rather than the physical assets like steel and real way. this was the concept of financing commerce and probably the only way that startup companies long on good will but short on material holdings could be marketed to an uninitiated public. henry called the price-earnings ratio and determined by dividing the company's closing market price by its per-share earnings. due to the ascendance of the rapid fire computer-driven trading has the relevance of the ratio which has the track record of publicly traded companies for a century being challenged as leveraged long and short-term debt preferred stock and free cash flow are factored into the forecasts for the future.
in 1904 when the united cigar, the largest independent tobacco company in the country came to goldman sachs for a bridge loan of $20 million to build more factories and enlarge their sales force henry decided to make them the guinea pigs for testing his new theory. in less than an hour on the line yellow pad the basic elements of issuing comment as referred stock. the market share stood more time. a great deal of the preferred was sold in europe through sam's thinking contact abroad and subsequently resulted american subscribers. goldman and lehman retained 5% of the common as the commission.
the next project was sears roebuck. sears and the partner julius who were turned over 50 million a year of their cattle home business or in the midst of constructing the largest business building in the world covering a million square feet of floor space on the chicagos west side. it had been funded by goldman sachs commercial paper and now they can back to goldman for 5 million-dollar loan. henry had for ideas, he recommended selling sears on the open market making it the first publicly owned retail operation in existence they doubled the firm's investment and having a 10 million-dollar profit and term both goldman sachs and sears into household names. during the next 11 years, goldman and lehman underwrote a
number of great companies that excited him for the most which he knew would be the new land park in the firm drive to the top was studebaker which became the first automobile manufacturer owned by the public. even his partner was impressed by about one. as they descended and all the things the bankers put forth became the hot issues everyone wanted to get in on the personal animosities between the two brothers continued to deteriorate and spread among their families. they came to the head in 1914 when the war broke out in europe they said these were pro allied, the henry who had always admired the german people efficiency and culture felt otherwise and spoke vehemently against the british to the french who they felt were
showing their muscle to maintain their commercial supremacy. adhering to the market by lal goldman sachs refrain from participating in the anglo-french bond drive. one of only two houses to do so, the other one being low. they castigated determine the chemical pariah in england. when the london press quoted him and warned that goldman sachs was in danger of being blacklisted in the city. he realized he wasn't just voicing his personal opinions but pleasing the firm's in jeopardy. in 1917 he tendered his resignation and we're out his desk taking within 15 of the corporate clients for the fortunes he had been responsible along with his considerable share of the firm's funds.
although professing relief and reiterating how embarrassed they were like henry's pull german stance, the family never forgave him. henry and sam never spoke again nor did he and his sister of louisa. they told everyone that he had withdrawn from the world of finance and was living in disillusioned, disappointed retirement in germany which couldn't have been further from the truth. it began to block every trace of him from goldman sachs records. almost 100 years have passed a tried to interview the sec's family for this book. some profess they didn't even know they were related to the goldmans. others retreated them protestant rejecting judea's and along with their family tree. one grand niece living on the place had such ill will against
him reasons he kept a scrapbook of clippings chronicling the tidbits of his daily life from the over-the-top wages he paid is domestic to the amount he paid for the yacht he devah albert einstein on his 50th birthday. she also referred to the siting of henry marching in a program and prayed at the beginning of world war i which he was unable to substantiate. and naturally henry was surprisingly relieved to be released from the pandora's box of the office and spend his time on other interests dear to his heart. he began to indulge a passion for assembling what was arguably one of the finest small collections of renaissance in the country. unlike the collectors of today he had no interest in buying the option dowries of the month and then selling them at huge
profits once they made a purchase it was his for keeps. and it was in his avenue department to be enjoyed and admired by his friends and family period. he felt emotional as well as intellectual tied to each of the pieces. and was thrilled by his first major acquisition rembrandt's portrait of the apostle by fall lemuel that he couldn't sleep for nights on end. among his purchases were works by van dyke, donatello madonna and child and the mess which was my grandmother's favorite. the was a small inkwell by the sculptured selene she kept on the desk to his dying day. my book also tells the story of the convoluted relationship between goldman and his dear friend josephine who was the most into duty to influential art dealer of the 21st century
and the foremost authority on the renaissance art who compromised his capability attributing works of art to the state of his pocket with. work during world war i when the hostilities ended and the verso treaty had been signed his first priority was to help resurrect the german economy which had been completely wrecked by the reparations terms. inflation of germany reached rampant and the market novell you have all. the campaign was vigorous among wealthy wall street bankers urging them to invest in german industries and construction. his efforts were so successful that the president gave him on every german citizenship. but they also backfired with small businesses which were virtually wiped off of the map.
they're middle class owners became among hitler's most vocal supporters in the years to come. in 1924, henry made the acquaintance of the albert einstein at an elite banquet of bankers held in berlin. goldman and einstein hit it off famously and began a lifelong friendship. henry was fascinated by the description of experiments and the quantum mechanics being conducted by max warren. some of his students include robert oppenheimer at the university. the subject was very controversial as the time and einstein was convinced of visibility. nevertheless, goldman gave over a thousand dollars to continue which resulted in the development of the 25 years
later. in 1931 when einstein concluded he could no longer live in the hostile atmosphere he had the post at the institute for learning. but after a year at the institute was enforcing intolerable demand on his personal freedom professors threatened to leave. henry attempted to and intercede and as the nazis and spread and hitler rose to the presidency of germany ruling out alternative options for neinstein. henry was convinced the nazis were just a passing phase until the 40,000 ordinary citizens libraries and private homes with armloads of books into a bonfire facing the berlin opera house.
meanwhile as the world turned dark henry became more deeply involved in the passion for music. they attended concerts' three times a week in dresden, berlin and new york and were great fans of the opera. the social circle grew such luminaries of the world as the great leader singer allin earhart and the violinist fritz kreisler. when henry attended the first concert by the 11-year-old volume violin prodigy at carnegie hall and was told the youngster wasn't playing on an instrument he decided on the spot to make the best even better and presented with a $60,000 strata this area.
one wall street suffered the great collapse but henry's resources are a thing significantly affected. thanks to the conservative investments when friends commented on him in such tough times he responded i'd like to make money i'd like to make more to see that money used to make the world a better place. it wasn't until 1932 when he paid what would be his last visit to germany but he realized how much had changed their. it had swastikas on the sleeves and were posted outside the jewish stores. jewish pharmacies had been forced to close and the jews and liberals had been totally eliminated. old friends avoid associating with you and in spite of the fact they carried a white cane of a blind man he was pushed into the street.
the law anti-semitism made him with his own feelings about judaism. he disassociated himself from religion of any sort since he was a little boy. now he began to question the moral obligations that went hand in hand with the fortunes he had pursued and achieved and the relevance of the world of the investment banking he had created. he wrote hundreds of letters to his influential contacts at home and abroad seeking visas and immigration papers for scientists, scholars, physicians, artists and authors and especially children attempting to flee the holocaust and encourage others bankers who had the money of the political clout to get things done to do the same. his wife and a still member of
the uaj as a phenomenal fund-raiser for the cause collecting many thousands of dollars by personally appealing to the lives of wealthy wall streeters henry died in his fifth avenue apartment in april of 1937 surrounded by the paintings and sculptures he loved so well leaving instructions for his heirs to destroy his private papers. he had no regrets and felt no sympathy for those who lost over $10 million in the great depression because they have followed in the footsteps of others and failed to do their homework. you could only wonder and hope that goldman sachs, his father's tradition and the firm he transformed would regain its height someday and to reestablish the culture with which it had originally been identified. he certainly would never have
recognized as it exists today the huge publicly held bank holding company which was sued for fraud by the fcc and find a half million dollars for the recent crass as well as 31 million to the u.k. financial service authority concerted and the company made a mistake in the regulatory disclosures about london. a grandfather would never have endorsed or participated in financial instruments which he didn't fully understand himself. as a small closely held partnership consisting largely of family members he would have shaken his head in amazement at today's multitude of partners and their salaries and bonuses which exceed the treasury of many foreign countries. however i think he would find it
quite amusing simply gold mine although no goldman has worked since 1917 and it is unlikely that one ever will again. [applause] >> i would be very happy to have questions from the floor if you have some. yes, sir. >> i have it question, to parts. first are you familiar with the book [inaudible] and if so could you talk about how it related to respect we were very ordinary kids. we didn't go around flashing our wealth. in fact my schoolmates in new york and vanderbilt and people i
never thought of our family as being rich. there's an interesting book though not just of which were for the research on the oral history of the son of samuel sacks, and i also went to the archives of boston university and columbia and learned a lot of information from that. it's an interesting and quite a different story from the one that i told. does that answer your question? if i left something out, let me know. anybody else? >> okay. if there's no more questions we will do something here and acknowledge something that happened. june has donated