His scheme to corner the gold market in 1869 caused the Black Friday panic. He created new ways of manipulating markets, assembling capital, and swallowing his competitors. Many of these methods are now standard practice; others were unique to their circumstances and unrepeatable; some were among the first things prohibited by the SEC when it came into being in the 1930s.
Edward J. Renehan, Jr., recounts the life story of a figure whose influence in his day outranks that of Bill Gates today. Simultaneously, Renehan reveals a time when a "corporate takeover battle" was quite literally a battle involving not just lawyers and bankers but the buying and selling of judges and occasional confrontations between gangs of armed thugs. Renehan combines anecdotes with the social tapestry of the Gilded Age to paint the portrait of a man who was undoubtedly the most talented financial buccaneer of his generation - and one of the inventors of modern business.
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Jay Gould was a railroad investor and speculator during the Gilded Age and is sometimes regarded as the epitome of the immoral robber baron. Cornelius Vanderbilt founded a transportation empire based on steam and launched a family dynasty that became synonymous with extreme wealth. The secretaries of the Treasury, since the first secretary Alexander Hamilton, have held positions of influence in the cabinets of most presidents.