July 29, 1797|
Carmel, New York
|Died||September 18, 1879
New York City
|Known for||Stock market speculation and manipulation|
Daniel Drew (July 29, 1797 – September 18, 1879) was an American businessman, steamship and railroad developer, and financier. Summarizing his life, Henry Clews, who knew Drew well, wrote that, "Of all the great operators of Wall Street, however, Daniel Drew furnishes the most remarkable instance of immense and long-continued success, followed by utter failure and hopeless bankruptcy".
Drew was born in Carmel, New York in the family of Gilbert Drew and Catherine Muckleworth. He was poorly educated and have seen hardship after his father, who owned a small cattle farm, died when Daniel was fifteen years old. Drew enlisted and drilled, but never fought in the War of 1812. After the war, he spent some time with a traveling zoo and then built a successful cattle-driving business. In 1823, he married Roxanna Mead. In 1834, he entered the steamboat business, purchasing a share of a boat operating on the Hudson River. He competed unsuccessfully with Cornelius Vanderbilt, but ran numerous profitable lines outside of New York City.
During this time, Drew began to speculate in stocks. He founded the brokerage firm of Drew, Robinson & Company in 1844, which dissolved a decade later with the deaths of his partners. He continued to work in the brokerage business as an independent operator. In 1857, Drew became a member of the board of directors of the Erie Railroad and used his position to manipulate the railroad stock price. He joined forces with Vanderbilt to rescue the Erie from bankruptcy, and also became a director of the New York and Harlem Railroad, where he collaborated again with Vanderbilt to prop up that company's finances.
In 1864, Drew once again struggled with Vanderbilt, speculating on the stock of the New York and Harlem. Drew was selling the stock short, but Vanderbilt and his associates bought every share he sold, ultimately causing the stock price to rise from 90 to 285 in five months. Drew lost $500,000.
In 1866 to 1868, Drew engaged in the Erie War, in which Drew conspired along with fellow directors James Fisk and Jay Gould to issue stock to keep Vanderbilt from gaining control of the Erie Railroad. Vanderbilt, unaware of the increase in outstanding shares, kept buying Erie stock and sustained heavy losses, eventually conceding control of the railroad to the trio.:207-232
In 1870, Fisk and Gould betrayed Drew, manipulating the stock price of the Erie Railroad and causing him to lose $1.5 million.:364-379 (Fisk was killed in January 1872 by a jealous rival over a mistress. Gould himself would later be swindled out of $1,000,000 worth of Erie railroad stock and never controlled the Erie Railroad). The Panic of 1873 cost him still more, and by 1876, Drew filed for bankruptcy, with debts exceeding a million dollars and no viable assets. He died in 1879, dependent on his son for support.:423
Daniel Drew left a controversial legacy behind. At the zenith of his career as a financier, when his personal fortune was estimated at $13 million and he was respectfully called "Uncle Daniel" on Wall Street, he was treated with admiration. After his fortunes changed, he was vilified by newspapers, which wrote that, "He has been one of the curses of the market for years past. If he has now received such a blow as will result in his being driven from the Street altogether, no one will be sorry for him", and "He holds the honest people of the world to be a pack of fools".:399
On the one hand, Drew, a devout Methodist, built churches in Carmel and Brewster, New York, contributed to the founding of Drew Theological Seminary in Madison, New Jersey, which is now part of Drew University, and Drew Seminary for Young Ladies in his home town of Carmel.
Then again, Drew Street, in eastern Baltimore, Maryland, is reportedly named after him due to Drew's involvement as an investor in the Baltimore Canton Company, which owned and developed much of the area through the early 1900s.
On the other hand, Drew is popularly credited with introducing what would be called "watered stock" to the Wall Street, to describe company shares that were issued by false means including counterfeit stock certificates and unauthorized stock release, resulting in a dilution of ownership. The term came from his time in the livestock business, when he would have his cattle lick salt and drink water before selling them, to increase their weight.:44-54 The watered stock tactic was used in the Erie War of the 1860s, when Drew along with James Fisk and Jay Gould blocked arch rival Cornelius Vanderbilt from getting ownership of the Erie Railroad.
- Clews, Henry. Fifty Years in Wall Street. Hoboken, N.J.: J. Wiley & Sons, 2006, p. 183.
- "Death of Daniel Drew". New York Times. 1879-09-19.
- Browder, Clifford. The Money Game in Old New York: Daniel Drew and His Times. Lexington: University of Kentucky, 1986.
- McAlpine, Robert W. (1872). The Life and Times of Col. James Fisk, Jr.. New York: New York Book Co. pp. 46–152.
- White, Bouck (1910). The Book of Daniel Drew. New York: Doubleday, Page & Co.
- "James Fisk Murdered". New York Times. 1872-01-07.
- Cunningham, John T. (2002). University in the Forest: The Story of Drew University (3rd ed.). Phoenix Color Corp. ISBN 0-89359-017-7.
- Jones, Carleton (1991). Streetwise Baltimore: the Stories Behind Baltimore Street Names. Chicago: Bonus Books. ISBN 9780929387277.
- Dodd, David L. Stock Watering: The Judicial Valuation of Property for Stock-Issue Purposes. New York: Columbia University Press, 1930.
- Gordon, John Steele. The Scarlet Woman of Wall Street: Jay Gould, Jim Fisk, Cornelius Vanderbilt, the Erie Railway Wars, and the Birth of Wall Street. New York: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1988.
- Josephson, Matthew. The Robber Barons; The Great American Capitalists, 1861-1901. New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1962.
- Reader's Digest Association. Discovering America's Past: Customs, Legends, History & Lore of Our Great Nation. Pleasantville, N.Y.: Reader's Digest Association, 1993.
- Waggoner, John (2005-11-25). "Betting against shorts isn't wise". USA Today.