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Windy McPherson's Son

CHAPTER II.9
The story of Sam's life there in Chicago for the next several years ceases to be the story
of a man and becomes the story of a type, a crowd, a gang. What he and the group of men
surrounding him and making money with him did in Chicago, other men and other
groups of men have done in New York, in Paris, in London. Coming into power with the
great expansive wave of prosperity that attended the first McKinley administration, these
men went mad of money making. They played with great industrial institutions and
railroad systems like excited children, and a man of Chicago won the notice and
something of the admiration of the world by his willingness to bet a million dollars on the
turn of the weather. In the years of criticism and readjustment that followed this period of
sporadic growth, writers have told with great clearness how the thing was done, and some
of the participants, captains of industry turned penmen, Caesars become ink- slingers,
have bruited the story to an admiring world.
Given the time, the inclination, the power of the press, and the unscrupulousness, the
thing that Sam McPherson and his followers did in Chicago in not difficult. Advised by
Webster and the talented Prince and Morrison to handle his publicity work, he rapidly
unloaded his huge holdings of common stock upon an eager public, keeping for himself
the bonds which he hypothecated at the banks to increase his working capital while
continuing to control the company. When the common stock was unloaded, he, with a
group of fellow spirits, began an attack upon it through the stock market and in the press,
and bought it again at a low figure, holding it ready to unload when the public should
have forgotten.
The annual advertising expenditure of the firearms trust ran into millions and Sam's hold
upon the press of the country was almost unbelievably strong. Morrison rapidly
developed unusual daring and audacity in using this instrument and making it serve Sam's
ends. He suppressed facts, created illusions, and used the newspapers as a whip to crack
at the heels of congressmen, senators, and legislators, of the various states, when such
matters as appropriation for firearms came before them.
And Sam, who had undertaken the consolidation of the firearms companies, having a
dream of himself as a great master in that field, a sort of American Krupp, rapidly awoke
from the dream to take the bigger chances for gain in the world of speculation. Within a
year he dropped Edwards as head of the firearms trust and in his place put Lewis, with
Morrison as secretary and manager of sales. Guided by Sam these two, like the little
drygoods merchant of the old Rainey Company, went from capital to capital and from
city to city making contracts, influencing news, placing advertising contracts where they
would do the most good, fixing men.
And in the meantime Sam, with Webster, a banker named Crofts who had profited largely
in the firearms merger, and sometimes Morrison or Prince, began a series of stock raids,
speculations, and manipulations that attracted country-wide attention, and became known
to the newspaper reading world as the McPherson Chicago crowd. They were in oil,
 
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