San Francisco News and Stories: 1800s
Review of the Market 1854-1855
New York Daily Times,
January 11, 1855
Review of the Market
From the San Francisco Shipping List, December 15, 1854
The week which has elapsed since the sailing of the last steamer has been one of very general inactivity in business circles. Everything has been dull, and the aggregate of sales up but a small figure. The demand from the interior continues very light, and the prospects of improvement are much fainter than they appeared a few weeks since. In fact, it is generally conceded that we may now look forward to very quiet times for a considerable time to come.
Since our last, a number of vessels, many of them clipper-ships, have reached port, and the accessions to our stock of general merchandise have been large. Had these goods reached us a month ago, all would have been activity and bustle; but as it is, the effect has been rather to depress than stimulate the market, and in the absence of purchasers, the bulk of the cargoes are going into store. A considerable portion of the merchandise coming to hand, was purchased previous to arrival, and now held for sale but although holders are anxious to place their goods, the (text unintelligible) . . . would have to be made by the importers. The scarcity of money exercises a marked effect on the business community, and the tendency of things is undoubtedly towards lower prices.
The character of the news received by the Golden Age, just come to hand, will not help at all to mend matters here. Freights have advances fall five cents per food in New York, and the number of vessels laid out for San Francisco has been largely fragmented. The tendency seems to be to (unintelligible) to this port, and we very much fear that all the experience of the past year, with its ruinous losses and unwanted . . . will go for naught in the seemingly legitimate desire to gamble in California ventures. We can only say to parties in the East that they must take the circumstances of their folly, if they pursue any such course. They have been warned again and again on the subject, and if they do commence the system of last year, the fault lies at their own doors.
Freaks of Fortune: The Emerging World of Capitalism and Risk in America
Until the early nineteenth century, "risk" was a specialized term: it was the commodity exchanged in a marine insurance contract. Freaks of Fortune tells the story of how the modern concept of risk emerged in the United States. Born on the high seas, risk migrated inland and became essential to the financial management of an inherently uncertain capitalist future. Focusing on the hopes and anxieties of ordinary people, Jonathan Levy shows how risk developed through the extraordinary growth of new financial institutions-insurance corporations, savings banks, mortgage-backed securities markets, commodities futures markets, and securities markets-while posing inescapable moral questions. For at the heart of risk's rise was a new vision of freedom. To be a free individual, whether an emancipated slave, a plains farmer, or a Wall Street financier, was to take, assume, and manage one's own personal risk. Yet this often meant offloading that same risk onto a series of new financial institutions, which together have only recently acquired the name "financial services industry." Levy traces the fate of a new vision of personal freedom, as it unfolded in the new economic reality created by the American financial system.
Amid the nineteenth-century's waning faith in God's providence, Americans increasingly confronted unanticipated challenges to their independence and security in the boom and bust chance-world of capitalism. Freaks of Fortune is one of the first books to excavate the historical origins of our own financialized times and risk-defined lives.
Imperial San Francisco: Urban Power, Earthly Ruin
(California Studies in Critical Human Geography)
First published in 1999, this celebrated history of San Francisco traces the exploitation of both local and distant regions by prominent families—the Hearsts, de Youngs, Spreckelses, and others—who gained power through mining, ranching, water and energy, transportation, real estate, weapons, and the mass media. The story uncovered by Gray Brechin is one of greed and ambition on an epic scale. Brechin arrives at a new way of understanding urban history as he traces the connections between environment, economy, and technology and discovers links that led, ultimately, to the creation of the atomic bomb and the nuclear arms race.
Millionaires and Kings of Enterprise
The Marvellous Careers of Some Americans Whose Pluck, Foresight, and Energy Have Made Themselves Masters in the Fields of Industry and Finance
All About America: Gold Rush and Riches
Paul Robert Walker
Meticulously researched, with specially-commissioned illustration, detailed reconstructions and original artwork from each period, reading lists, and resources for further study, this series is an immersive introduction to the history that shaped America. In 1848, carpenter James Marshall made a chance discovery: a few shiny flakes-of gold in a riverbed he was digging. Within a year 800,000 gold-seekers from all over the world were on their way to California, and the Gold Rush was on.
The Big Spenders
The Epic Story of the Rich Rich, the Grandees of America and the Magnificoes, and How They Spent Their Fortunes
The Big Spenders was Lucius Beebe's last and many think his best book. In it he describes the consumption of the Gilded Age. Beebe enjoys it all immensely, and so do his readers, whether it is James Gordon Bennett buying a Monte Carlo restaurant because he was refused a seat by the window, or Spencer Penrose leaving a bedside memo reminding himself not to spend more than $1 million the next day.
The Tycoons: How Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller, Jay Gould, and J. P. Morgan Invented the American Supereconomy
Charles R. Morris
Acclaimed author Charles R. Morris vividly brings the men and their times to life. The ruthlessly competitive Carnegie, the imperial Rockefeller, and the provocateur Gould were obsessed with progress, experiment, and speed. They were balanced by Morgan, the gentleman businessman, who fought, instead, for a global trust in American business. Through their antagonism and their verve, they built an industrial behemoth — and a country of middle-class consumers. The Tycoons tells the incredible story of how these four determined men wrenched the economy into the modern age, inventing a nation of full economic participation that could not have been imagined only a few decades earlier.