Cassie Chadwick Scammed the Gilded Age Elite Out of Millions and Convinced The World She Was Andrew Carnegie’s Bastard Daughter

52:10
 
Share
 

Manage episode 323599087 series 2421086
By Scott Rank, PhD and Scott Rank. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.
Of all the self-made millionaires of the Gilded Age (and there were many, such as John Rockefeller, son of a literal snake oil salesman who became the world’s first billionaire), nobody can rival bootstrapping tenacity of Cassie Chadwick. She was a drifter from Canada who set herself up as wife of a rich doctor in Cleveland before moving on to a much bigger con involving the richest man in the world, Andrew Carnegie. With little education, no financial training, and at a time when women didn't even have the vote, Cassie Chadwick (Elizabeth Bigley) moved up the chain of bankers, getting each banker to loan her more than the one before telling each one a simple lie, she was none other than the illegitimate daughter of Carnegie and she was due to inherit his entire fortune.
By the time the police caught up to her she had wrecked the banking system of Cleveland, sending one unfortunate banker to his grave and causing the collapse of a major bank. When the trial was held it was a media event that pushed the trial of Teddy Roosevelt off the front pages with a climactic moment when Andrew Carnegie appeared to face his accuser. Cassie was eventually convicted but not before taking others with her and leaving a legacy as the biggest con woman in the United States only to be eclipsed by Charles Ponzi.
Today’s guest is William Hazelgrove, author of the book Greed in the Gilded Age: The Brilliant Con of Cassie Chadwick. We explore the excesses of this age, and the very thin line between radical reinvention and outright deception.

710 episodes