Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Corruption in Wall Street 1871

The blunting of moral sense, the callous unconscientiousness which the atmosphere of Wall street seems to produce with appalling swiftness on so many who enter it, has had of late years many sad and startling examples. Men previously honorable and upright in all their dealings become infected with the terrible malaria of speculation, and straightway honor flies from them. They betray their dearest friends, and rob those who trust them with as little compunction as a "Ring" official. The case of Pay-master Hodge presents a painful example of this corrupting influence. But what is even more suggestive is the assertion made in his confession, that his embezzlements were connived at, if not prompted, by the Wall street brokers who managed his unhappy speculations. The charge gains color from the arrest on Tuesday of one of the members of a well-known firm in Exchange-place, on an affidavit of Assistant District-Attorney Purdy, alleging his complicity with the defaulting Pay-master. Whether this is really the guilty party is not yet evident, and we do not propose to prejudge the case. But it seems probable that some broker did commit the offense for which Mr. Jackson has been arrested; did use the money advanced by Hodge, knowing it to be Government money, and perhaps actually advised this dishonest conversion of the public funds. And if that broker be found and convicted of the crime, we trust to see him punished with the extreme rigor of the law. His guilt is, if anything, greater than that of the actual defaulter, for it adds the darker sin of temptation to dishonesty. It is just such crafty insidious knaves who have gone far to make Wall street a name of evil repute; who help to create gold panics and stock "corners," and whose infectious immorality is gradually undermining the commercial integrity of the country. We look to see this financial rascal impartially and sternly dealt with.

The above article in its entirety was transcribed verbatim from the New York Times dated September 28, 1871.

Contact: miriam@thehistorybox.com or miriammedina@earthlink.net

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