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. You see, besides owning a large chunk of Erie stock, 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 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 at the meeting, but even after he finally arrived, the meeting droned on tediously until the board room clock struck 3:00 p.m. The stock market was closed for trading. 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 piled up before Jacob got very impressive. The Napoleon of the Board Room had been broken and broken 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 smiling a winning smile while the image fades to black. But in reality, inevitably, Jacob lost one more fortune than he made. He died flat 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 bankers and gamers 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.
- 30 -