William Chapman Ralston : Benevolent Prince of California
Luse, Jonathan E.
William Chapman Ralston was a man both ahead of and very much a part of his times. He was ahead of his time in the sense that he saw the need for a commercial bank in California and created it at a time when it was constitutionally illegal. His optimistic plans for the prosperity of his beloved state and city by the Bay led to 'the development of many industries, agricultural projects, and mines. With the power of the Bank of California behind him, his influence was felt throughout the West Coast and as far away as New York, London, Japan and Australia. Ralston added to the form of San Francisco with hotels, a theater, a new street and the plans for the demolition of a large hill. Ralston’s construction of a huge dry dock answered a need felt by shipping and ensured San Francisco’s position as the leading port on the Pacific Coast. aspects, William Ralston was a man ahead of his time. In these In other aspects, Ralston was a man very much a .part of his time. First and foremost was his speculative nature. Most people who had money (and even some who did not) played the stock market in hopes of fabulous profits, and Ralston had more money than most. Ralston was unlike the average man in that he owned many of the mines in which people were speculating, but in the end losses resulting from speculation were his downfall, just as they had been the cause of pauperage of many others. A man cannot escape his fate and Ralston’s finally caught up with him.
v, 110 p.
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