Cocktail Conversation: The Origin of Wall Street (part1)

wall_streetChris and I were sitting around yesterday looking for a movie to catch our eye and somehow, wall street looked like a fascinating idea. This 1987 Michael Douglas/Martin Scheen/Charlie Scheen movie is enough to keep anyone entertained, but it made us wonder how did this crazy street come into play? While reading blogs, I stumbled upon History Confidential’s histrory of wall street, a complete coincidence, this morning! Enjoy.

Posted by Bacall in Early American

First off let’s investigate where the name Manhattan derives from. It comes from the word Manna-hata, the European name given by the settlers to the Native American people who lived there (now believed to be the Lenape tribe). A ship from the Dutch West India company with an officer named Robert Jeut were sent on a mission to discover a Northwest Passage to China;  it set out on the mission and landed in the Upper New York Bay instead on September 11, 1609. The Ship anchored off the northern tip of Manhattan. The ship’s captain, Henry Hudson, named the river “Mauritius River,” later changed to the Hudson River.


In 1625 the fortress town of New Amsterdam on Manhattan Island was founded by Wilem Verhulst, director of the Dutch West India Company. This making Manhattan Island the first permanent European settlement in what we now know as part of New York City, or as I call it, the heart of New York City. In 1626 Verhulst’s successor bought the Island from the Lenape for 60 guilders worth of goods. The value of these goods equaled $24.00, which in today’s currency works out to about $500-$700 dollars!

Now, bear in mind, the Lenape people had no concept of  land ownership. As far as they were concerned land could not be owned by anyone. Land, in their mind was like water, and air, there for all to partake in, freely. They saw the goods as a gesture of appreciation to them for sharing the land with the Europeans. They lived in peace for a little while. When the Lenape people later wanted the land back, the settlers built a wall to keep them out. That wall later became what we know as Wall Street where the New York Stock Exchange stands today. Think about that when you visit Wall Street next time.

Published in: on July 15, 2009 at 7:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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Cocktail Conversation: Ancient Greece (800-338 BCE)

The Parthenon, Acropolis, Athens, Greece

[Ever been stuck at a cocktail party and some historical period comes up that you know you should have some knowledge of but it has escaped you? This section should pull you out of the abyss about Ancient Greece!]

Ancient Greece is responsible for a large part of how our society functions today. They are responsible for inventing drama and the theater, establishing medicine as a scientific study, geometry, the Olympic games and democracy.

Just The Facts:

590-607 BCE Athenian Democracy “rule of the people” flourishes- The citizens of Athens elected public officials and were able to vote on all important issues including how to spend government money, whether to declare war and were even able to vote to exile someone. This model of democracy has influenced countless governments, yet no one have given their citizens as much power as the Athenians.What was a citizen in Athens? Well there were a very small number of people that actually made the qualifications. A citizen needed to be born in Athens, with Athenian parents, a free person over 20 and male.

776 First Olympic Games- The warring across Greece was postponed for the Olympics which people from all over Greece participated in every four years.

750 The Greek alphabet is in use and Homer writes the Iliad and the Odyssey- The Greek alphabet was unique in its simplicity. With only 20 characters, it was easy to learn to read and write.

441-404 Peloponnesian War ends in Sparta’s victory over Athens- Spartan boys left home at the age of 7 to be trained to fight by the state. They were allowed to marry at the age of 20 but could not live with their wives until 30.

432 The Parthenon is completed and dedicated to Athena, after being destroyed once by the Persians. The cost totaled 469 silver talents. To give some perspective, one talent built a warship or fed a crew for a year.

430 Herodotus writes the first known history

399 Socrates, convicted of corrupting the youth, drinks hemlock.

343 Aristotle tutors Alexander the Great

338 Greece becomes subject to Macedon in the battle of Chaeronea

Published in: on July 10, 2009 at 11:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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Cocktail Conversation about Mesopotamia


Ever been stuck at a cocktail party and some historical period comes up that you know you should have some knowledge of but it has escaped you? This section should pull you out of the abyss about various historical topics!

Mesopotamia is the dawn of civilization as we know it. As my beau informed me, “they invented things like, the wheel.” The civilization developed circa 5500 BCE (before the common era) and thrived for over 2,000 years. To put that in perspective, our culture as we know it, post industrialization is little over 300 years old. The name means the land between the rivers. Which rivers you ask? The Tigres and Euphrates.

Just the Facts:

55000-45000 BCE The Mesopotamians invented farming through the use of the plow and irrigation.

3400 Mesopotamians developed a sophisticated form of writing called cuneiform and wrote using a stick pressed into soft clay.

2334 Sargon, king of Agade conquered all of Mesopotamia and had control of the first know empire in history.

1792-1750 During Hammurabi’s rein, he writes down the first known set of laws. These laws included harsh punishments including mutilation and death for nearly all offenses. Women and children were also written in as property. (How nice of them.)

539 BCE Mesopotamia falls to the Persian King Cyrus (559-530 BCE) who then ruled the largest kingdom the world had ever seen.

Published in: on July 6, 2009 at 10:21 am  Leave a Comment