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
Ward, Geoffrey C. (Book - 2012)
Average Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5.
A Disposition to Be Rich
 Add a Comment  Add Tags


Item Details

Random House, Inc.

Ferdinand Ward was the greatest swindler of the Gilded Age. Through his unapologetic villainy, he bankrupted Ulysses S. Grant and ran roughshod over the entire world of finance. Now, his compelling, behind-the-scenes story is told—told by his great-grandson, award-winning historian Geoffrey C. Ward.
Ward was the Bernie Madoff of his day, a supposed genius at making big money fast on Wall Street who turned out to have been running a giant pyramid scheme—one that ultimately collapsed in one of the greatest financial scandals in American history. The son of a Protestant missionary and small-town pastor with secrets of his own to keep, Ward came to New York at twenty-one and in less than a decade, armed with charm, energy, and a total lack of conscience, made himself the business partner of the former president of the United States and was widely hailed as the “Young Napoleon of Finance.” In truth, he turned out to be a complete fraud, his entire life marked by dishonesty, cowardice, and contempt for anything but his own interests.
Drawing from thousands of family documents never before examined, Geoffrey C. Ward traces his great-grandfather’s rapid rise to riches and fame and his even more dizzying fall from grace. There are mistresses and mansions along the way; fast horses and crooked bankers and corrupt New York officials; courtroom confrontations and six years in Sing Sing; and Ferdinand’s desperate scheme to kidnap his own son to get his hands on the estate his late wife had left the boy. Here is a great story about a classic American con artist, told with boundless charm and dry wit by one of our finest historians.

Baker & Taylor
Documents the story of Gilded Age con artist Ferdinand Ward, recounting how his large-scale pyramid operation and other sensational schemes triggered one of the greatest financial scandals in American history.

& Taylor

The National Book Critics Circle Award-winning author of Unforgiveable Blackness documents the story of Gilded Age con artist Ferdinand Ward, recounting how his large-scale pyramid operation and other sensational schemes triggered one of the greatest financial scandals in American history. 35,000 first printing.

Authors: Ward, Geoffrey C.
Statement of Responsibility: Geoffrey C. Ward
Title: 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
Publisher: New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2012
Edition: 1st ed
Characteristics: 418 p. : ill. ; 25 cm.
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references (p. [389]-399) and index
Contents: pt. 1. The Puritan
The Higher Calling
Labouring in Hope
Chastened and Sanctified
pt. 2. One of the Worst Boys
A Contest for Principle & Truth
The Triumph of the Monster, "War"
Suspected of Evil
pt. 3. The Young Napoleon of Finance
The Avaricious Spirit
The Bonanza Man
The Imaginary Business
Tears of Grateful Joy
The End Has Come
pt. 4. The Best Hated Man in the United States
A Magnificent and Audacious Swindle
A Verdict at Last
The Model Prisoner
All That Loved Me Are in Heaven
pt. 5. The Loving Father
Driven to Desperation
The Kidnapping
Subject Headings: Ward, Ferdinand De Wilton, 1851-1925 Capitalists and financiers United States Biography Swindlers and swindling United States Biography Financial crises United States History 19th century Ponzi schemes New York (State) New York History 19th century Grant, Ulysses S. (Ulysses Simpson), 1822-1885 Friends and associates Children of clergy New York (State) Biography Ward, F. De W. (Ferdinand De Wilton), 1812-1891 Rochester (N.Y.) Biography New York (N.Y.) Biography
Topical Term: Capitalists and financiers
Swindlers and swindling
Financial crises
Ponzi schemes
Children of clergy
LCCN: 2011035140
ISBN: 9780679445302
Branch Call Number: B Ward W
Research Call Number: JFE 12-4492
MARC Display»


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment

Jul 09, 2012
  • Agent13 rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

It seems (?) that every family has a "Black Sheep", and it is true of the Ward family. Wait till you meet Ferdie Ward in this detailed book written by a family member out to mend, or prune, a bad branch in the family tree. In the course of the book, Ferdie's acts lead to taking down a financial institution and an American president. I cannot think which is worse: deceiving your business associates and clients, who you have a fiduciary responsibility to, or to your own flesh and blood. Read this book and come to your own conclusions.


Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add a Notice

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.


Add a Video

There are no videos for this title yet.

Find it at NYPL


Other Formats

Buy It Now

Support your library, keep it forever!

View Purchase Options Learn more about this program

Your Cart

Hello! We noticed you have the following items in your cart right now:

If you'd still like to purchase the items you have in your cart, you can do that now.

You'll be able to purchase your eBook after you have checked out your current cart.

A Disposition to Be Rich
Ward, Geoffrey C.
A Disposition to Be Rich

To continue with your eBook purchase immediately, you can clear your cart by clicking below.

All items will be removed from your cart.

I'd like to keep browsing! I'll decide later.

Explore Further

Browse the Shelf

Subject Headings



Powered by BiblioCommons.
app09 Version draggan_fix Last updated 2014/11/20 11:49