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The Exchange Artist: A Tale of High-Flying Speculation and America's First Banking Collapse
The startling story of an early American dreamer whose wily schemes made him a founding father of our speculation nation Rediscover a lost chapter in early American history: the story of financial- pioneer-turned-confidence-man Andrew Dexter, Jr., and the skyscraper for which he amassed—and then lost—a paper fortune. In the 1790s, printed money and banks...
The startling story of an early American dreamer whose wily schemes made him a founding father of our speculation nation Rediscover a lost chapter in early American history: the story of financial- pioneer-turned-confidence-man Andrew Dexter, Jr., and the skyscraper for which he amassed—and then lost—a paper fortune. In the 1790s, printed money and banks themselves were still regarded with tremendous suspicion, as traditional strictures about moneylending slowly made way for modern freewheeling capitalism. A pioneer in the new age of paper, Dexter challenged the notions of his Puritan ancestors by embarking on a wild career in real estate speculation, all financed by the string of banks he commandeered and the millions of dollars they freely printed. Upon this paper pyramid he built the tallest building in the United States—the Exchange Coffee House, a seven-story colossus in downtown Boston. But in early 1809, just as the exchange was ready for unveiling, the scheme collapsed. In Boston, the exchange became an opulent but largely vacant building, a symbol of monumental ambition and failure. Kamensky deftly steers the reader through this history, providing a riveting historical narrative of a second American founding: the birth of speculative capitalism. The book will appeal to fans of Peter Bernstein’s Against the Gods, John Gordon’s Empire of Wealth, and Ron Chernow’s Alexander Hamilton, as well as Ross King’s Brunelleschi’s Dome.
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