Author : James C. Nicholson
ISBN : 9780813167527
Genre : Biography & Autobiography
File Size : 40.46 MB
Format : PDF, Kindle
Download : 344
Read : 948
An Irish immigrant, a collection agent for crime bosses, a professional boxer, and a prodigious gambler, John Morrissey was -- if nothing else -- an unlikely candidate to become one of the most important figures in the history of Thoroughbred racing. As a young man, he worked as a political heavy in New York before going to San Francisco in search of fortune at the height of the Gold Rush. After returning to the east coast, he was hired by Tammany Hall and was soon locked in a deadly rivalry with William Poole, better known as "Bill the Butcher." As time went on, Morrissey parlayed his youthful exploits into a remarkably successful career as a businessman and politician. After establishing a gambling house in Saratoga Springs, the hard-nosed entrepreneur organized the first Thoroughbred race meet at what would become Saratoga Race Course in 1863. Morrissey went on to be elected to two terms in the U.S. House of Representatives and two terms in the New York State Senate. In The Notorious John Morrissey, James C. Nicholson explores the improbable life of the man who brought Thoroughbred racing back to prominence in the United States. Though few of his contemporaries did more to develop the commercialization of sports in America, Morrissey's colorful background has prevented him from getting the attention he deserves. This entertaining and long-overdue biography finally does justice to his astounding rags-to-riches story while exploring an intriguing chapter in the history of horse racing.
In 1855, New York City was scandalized by one of the most infamous murders in its history, that of gang leader Bill "the Butcher" Poole, the feared knife-fighter who later would inspire Daniel Day-Lewis's character in Martin Scorsese's film The Gangs of New York. The acknowledged mastermind in the Butcher's undoing was John Morrissey, a two-fisted Irish immigrant who, more than any other man of the age, represented the nefarious links between organized crime, politics, sports, and high finance in America. The loose inspiration behind Leonardo DiCaprio's character in The Gangs of New York, he was an undefeated bareknuckle prize-fighter, widely recognized as the national champion, as well as a feared gangster and mob boss before either term was coined, rumored leader of the Dead Rabbits street gang, and eventually U.S. Congressman and member of the New York state senate. He became the millionaire operator of some of the world's most opulent gambling halls, and was the founder of the Saratoga thoroughbred racecourse. Equally comfortable hobnobbing with pimps, cut-throats, and thieves as he was with Presidents Lincoln, Johnson, and Grant, or railroad tycoons like Cornelius Vanderbilt, the once impoverished street kid rose to a level of wealth and power unprecedented for Irish Americans to that point in the nation's history.The culmination of eight years of research, The Life and Crimes of John Morrissey is the most in-depth biography ever published about one of the nineteenth century's most notorious men. Drawing from the original newspaper accounts, as well as the memoirs of men who knew him, this is the true tale of gang wars and bloody riots in the notorious Five Points slum, a high-seas mutiny near Panama, bare-knuckle brawls in Canada and California, neck-and-neck horse races in Saratoga, million-dollar wagers on Wall Street, and back-room deals in Washington D.C. that encompass the short but daring life of John Morrissey.