"A portrait is a picture in which there is just a tiny little something not quite right about the mouth." -- John Singer Sargent

Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Daniel Drew

This 1933 caricature of Daniel Drew by Charles Child appeared in A Book of Americans by Rosemary and Stephen Vincent Benét. It accompanied a scathing poem which began:

O, Daniel Drew, O, Daniel Drew
I shiver when I think of you!

A 19th century anonymous poem about Daniel Drew ends this way:

And these words came back from the “Hackensack”
  “Ef yew want ter gamble a few,
Jest git in yer paw at a game o' draw,
  But don't take a 'and with Drew.”

Wikipedia has this quick bio of Daniel Drew:

Daniel Drew (July 29, 1797 – September 18, 1879) was an American businessman, steamship and railroad developer, and financier. Summarizing his life, Henry Clews wrote: “Of all the great operators of Wall Street … Daniel Drew furnishes the most remarkable instance of immense and long-continued success, followed by utter failure and hopeless bankruptcy”.
His most famous quote, explaining the nature of “short selling,” “He who sells what isn't his'n, must buy it back or go to pris'n,” captures his folksy speech and manipulative approach to the stock market.

Drew's actual appearance is better seen in this picture from  R.  W. McAlpine's 1872 book, The Life and Times of Col. James Fisk, Jr. 1872, Page 55.

Daniel Drew.

Or this image from the New York Times (June 25, 1905):

The Phrenological Journal contrasted Drew's broad head with Charles Bradloaugh's narrow head. (The Phrenological Journal and Science of Health (1870-1911); Philadelphia Vol. 99, Iss. 6,  (Jun 1895): 312.)

Drew was born poor in Carmel, New York in 1797. His father, a cattle farmer, died when Daniel was 15. Although underage, he was hired as a substitute for $100 and served during the War of 1812.  Soon after he joined a traveling menagerie before settling down to life as a drover.  As a drover, Drew is said to have invented the term —if not the practice— of  "watered stock,".  

He moved to New York city in 1820 and took over the Bull's Head Tavern in the Bowery

This picture below captured the tavern's appearance as of 1895. (See The Philipsburg Mail, June 13, 1895.)

Daniel Drew married Roxanna Mead in 1828. This is the only picture I could find of Roxanna Mead Drew. It's on her Twitter account:

The investment that made Drew's great fortune was in Hudson River Steamboats. Here's Currier and Ives image of the Hudson River Steamer Drew:

A Hudson river steamer is visible over Drew's shoulder in the Buttre engraving below which appears in Meade Minnigerode's 1927 Book  Certain Rich Men.

Daniel Drew
From an engraving by Buttre

During the Civil War Daniel Drew stood surety for the building of the original U.S.S. Monitor. Cornelius S. Bushnell wrote that he “was able to get Daniel Drew and the Hon. K. D. Sperry, of New Haven, to sign our bond, the latter willing to do almost anything I said was necessary to help the cause. Long may he live, and enjoy the respect of our people.” (See The Story of the Monitor by Cornelius S. Bushnell.)

Late in life, Daniel Drew was involved in an adventure, known as the Erie War, so financially arcane that I would not venture to try and explain it. I'll leave that to Appleton's Encyclopedia:
In  1866  he  was  treasurer  of  the  Erie railroad  company,  to  which  he  lent  the  sum  of $3,500,000,  receiving  as  security  $3,000,000  of shares  of  unused  stock  and  $3,000,000  of  bonds convertible  into  stock.  He  began  to  sell  the  stock  "short "  at  the  prevailing  high  price,  Cornelius Vanderbilt  and  his  adherents  being  the  purchasers. When  the  contracts  matured  Drew  converted  the bonds  into  stock  and  threw  into  the  market  the 58,000  shares  of  stock  that  he  possessed.  The matter  resulted  in  litigation,  which  drove  Drew and  his  party  to  New  Jersey,  where  they  remained until  the  case  was  settled.  Drew  afterward  lost heavily,  and  when  the  firm  of  Kenyon,  Cox  &  Co., of  which  he  was  a  partner,  failed,  he  was  compelled to  make  an  assignment  and  ultimately  to  go  into bankruptcy.
This engraving of a Brady photo from Harper's Weekly April 11, 1868 Page 237, in an article about the Erie War. This article was accompanied by a particularly opaque poem by C.H. Webb.

Daniel Drew, Treasurer of the Erie Railroad

Along the way Drew had become a devout Methodist and philanthropist. He founded,  for example, the Drew Seminary for Young Women. On the day of the seminary's dedication, Drew was unable to attend. He was holed-up in the Taylor Hotel hiding from the minions of Commodore Vanderbilt. 

Drew spent the last years of his life living with his son on a farm in Carmel. 

Daniel Drew

Daniel and Roxanna Drew are buried in Drewsclift Cemetery in Brewster, Putnam County, New York. See Find-a-Grave. Mary Simonelli submitted this picture of their tombstone to Find-a-Grave:

Daniel Drew
His Wife

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