It was maneuvers such as that which inspired a handful of the lesser wizards of Wall Street to plot Jacob’s demise. They were his fellow board members on the New York and Erie Railroad, and it seemed to them that Jacob was overextended. Besides owning a large chunk of Erie stock of course, Jacob had recently bought several thousand ‘options’ pledging to buy even more. When those options matured in six months, if the option holders demanded it, Jacob would have to deliver the stock at whatever the price.
The ultimate “Survivor” moment arrived on at the 2:00 p.m. meeting on Friday, November 16, 1855. It was the maturity date for Jacob’s options. Jacob was late arriving, and the meeting droned on until the board room clock struck 3:00 p.m. The market was closed for the day. It was no longer possible for Jacob to buy stock to meet his options. And in the best tribal council fashion, one by one the wizards presented their options to their cornered prey. The stack got very impressive. The Napoleon of the Board Room had been broken and broke right before their eyes. But just as Jeff Probst was about to say, “The next person voted off “Survivor”, Jacob Little pulled an immunity idol right out of his derrière.
Most Wall Street fairy tails end the story here, with The Napoleon of the Board Room winning until he faded into history. But inevitably Jacob lost one more fortune than he made. He died broke on Sunday, March 28th, 1865. The Board of the New York Stock Exchange adjourned for the day to attend his funeral, but I can not say for certain whether they did this out of respect, or to confirm that Jacob was finally really dead. But I can say it has been the goal of Wall Street brokers ever since to rig the game so that they never run the risk of dying broke, ever again. And that makes it a very different game than the one that Jacob played.
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