Ferdinand De Wilton Ward, Jr. (1851–1925), known first as the "Young Napoleon of Finance," and subsequently as "the Best-Hated Man in the United States," was an American swindler. Ward caused the financial ruin of many people, including many famous people such as Thomas Nast and the former U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant, who had helped him start his banking business.
Ward was born in Geneseo, New York to the former Jane Shaw and her husband Reverend Ferdinand De Wilton Ward, who had been missionaries in India.
As a young man Ward moved to New York City and in 1880 established the banking and brokerage firm Grant & Ward with investments from Ulysses S. "Buck" Grant, Jr., the son of the President, and from the President himself. Ward ran the company as a Ponzi scheme. The scheme collapsed in 1884, bankrupting Ulysses S. Grant.
Ward served over six years in New York State's Sing Sing Prison for fraud.
- Ward, Geoffrey C. A Disposition to Be Rich: How a Small-Town Pastor's Son Ruined an American President, Brought on a Wall Street Crash, and Made Himself the Best-Hated Man in the United States. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2012. ISBN 978-0-679-44530-2.
- Review of "A Disposition to Be Rich" in the New York Times Sunday Book Review, June 29. 2012
- "Read All About Geneseo's Dirty Rotten Scoundrel" in the Livingston County News, May 16, 2012
- Ferdinand Ward at Find a Grave
- Geoffrey Ward collection on Ferdinand Ward and the Ward family, 1825-2012. Manuscripts and Archives, New York Public Library. (Finding aid for research material collected by Geoffrey Ward while writing A Disposition to Be Rich.)
- "Son's Gems Claimed By Ferdinand Ward". New York Times. 6 April 1909.
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