From Dow to Barron

Charles Dow was the innovator, the decision-maker, in his partnership with Edward jones. Jones, on the other hand, was a smart analyst. He could look at the financial reports of a company and quickly determine its health. He also had a knack for directing sales of the “Journal’s” advertising department. By 1890, both the “Journal” and the “Dow Jones Indices” had become a success.

Eventually, however, over a 17-year period of investigative business reporting, growth, expansion and simultaneously trying to make ends meet for the paper, both Charles Dow and Edward Jones withered under the pressure. In the summer of 1899, Edward Jones decided to retire.

Dow, also, desperately wanted to retire. In 1902, he traveled from New York to Boston to meet with Clarence Walker Barron to tell him that he would like to sell Dow, Jones and the “Wall Street Journal.” Clarence Barron had already become a success in financial reporting out of Boston. His role model and the person he admired most was J.P. Morgan and his ruthless trading ability and habits. Dow could probably have sought out an easier target to sell his financial indices, ticker service and “Wall Street Journal” to.

While Dow was intelligent, he was not a born trader. Barron was. Barron sensed that Dow was desperate to sell, so he acted as if he had little interest. Ultimately, Barron almost stole the company in the trading process. He paid $156,000 for everything and much of the consideration was simply unsecured I.O.U.s.

In researching for my book on the life of Jackie Bancroft Spencer Morgan, the “Wall Street Journal” heiress, and her marriage to her last husband, I became fascinated by the “Journal’s” history and wrote about it along with the heiress’ life. My book is:  “Observer: The Ronnie Lee and Jackie Bancroft Spencer Morgan Story, a tale of people, greed, envy, manipulation — even crime”.

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