Hot Sheets of the Sporting Men

Richard Dreyfuss in “Lansky” 1999 Movie Trailer

On January 3, 1865, at about 4 o’clock in the morning, Harry Lazarus was talking to Henry Connell, bartender for Lazarus, outside his saloon. Lazarus was talking about going home. Connell told him that he had better go. Outside the bar, Lazarus was playfully trying to kick Connell on the shins.

At that point Barney Friery approached, with four or five of his pals. One of Friery’s pals was “California Jack.” As soon as Lazarus saw Friery and friends approaching, he stopped playing with Connell and started back in surprise at seeing Friery and friends.

California Jack was the first man who spoke. He said, “I’ll bet a hundred dollars that I’ve got a man here who can whip any man in the house.” He then asked Friery, “How much do you weigh?”

Cigars were purchased from the Lazarus saloon by Friery and friends, then California Jack offered to bet $10 that a man there could take Harry Lazarus’ pistol from him. But Lazarus, having no pistol, would not bet. At this point Connell begged Friery and his companions to avoid having difficulty in the house. But they said there would be row. [1] (Further background: Case of the Prize Fighter Lazarus, Ersjdamoo’s Blog, August 3, 2015.)

It was like something out of The Gangs of New York, the 2002 movie directed by Martin Scorsese. Harry Lazarus, Barney Friery, California Jack, et al., were “sporting men” (gamblers). But, reported the New York Times (as found on a computer disk accompanying the book, The New York Times Complete Civil War), “in common decency, it should be said that the peculiar class of ‘sporting men’ who were there [at a subsequent inquest] congregated, bore not the most remote resemblance to the gentlemen of means and leisure who once bore the title. There was a long catalogue of rough-visaged, one-eyed, heavy-shod and hard-fisted bruisers, pimps, gamblers and thieves among the motley crowd.” [1]

In the U.S. Congress, Thaddeus Stevens was worried about the sporting men. He introduced a resolution instructing the Committee of Ways and Means to inquire into the expediency of bringing in a bill to prevent combinations being formed to raise the price of coin and depreciate the value of lawful money of the United States. He said it would be recollected that the Secretary of the Treasury called attention to the combinations of men to enhance the price of gold, and asked Congress to provide some remedy. [2]

The next day, about January 5, 1865, discussion ensued in the House of Representatives. Congressman James G. Blaine, in an alarmed and excited manner, informed the House that the bill did mischief to the best interest of the country. The gentleman said it contained a provision to prohibit the exportation of gold, and fraught with all the evils of Pandora’s box. [2]

Many observations had been made in ridicule of the bill, among them that they might as well undertake to guide the planets or control the course of the moon, and a sotto voce remark was uttered, that they might as well make the mercury in the thermometer regulate the weather as to attempt to restrain gambling in gold by such a measure. [2]

But all these things made no impression upon Thaddeus Stevens. He then proceeded to give a short history of the legislation of England bearing upon the subject, showing that after England, in 1793, had declared war against France, combinations were formed to enhance the price of gold, and that, in view of this fact, laws were passed by Parliament to remedy the evil. [2]

Mr. Blaine, replying to Mr. Stevens, stated that according to his reading of English history, the prohibitive legislation of the British Parliament had produced no effect whatever on the price of gold. [2]

The “combinations” (conspiracy) of the sporting men might raise the price of gold and the shrewd gamblers, “going long”, would be “in the chips.” A long call “gives you the right to buy the underlying stock at strike price A.” Calls may be used as an alternative to buying stock outright. You can profit if the stock rises, without taking on all of the downside risk that would result from owning the stock. [3]

So Thaddeus Stevens was worried that the sporting men were conspiring to raise the price of gold and decrease the value of the lawful money. You can see how the two, gold and greenbacks, were pari passu: if one went up, the other went down.

The sporting men who were not in the loop consulted the “hot sheets.” These were “news” pamphlets which offered possible clues to the discerning reader. But if these “little people” were up against a secret combination and a rigged game, the hot sheets were unlikely to inform them well enough and their knowledgeable gambles would be for naught.

On July 29, 2015, one of the hot sheets reported that Janet Yellen, front face for the “Federal Reserve”, would not be raising rates in September. Those “waiting for the so-called ‘liftoff,’ or rates going up from near zero percent, can put away their stopwatches, at least for now,” reported Foreign Policy. [4]

Some of the sporting men will read such things and decide the pari passu nature of the stock market and the interest rates means stocks will go up in tandem with “Federal Reserve” not raising the rates. Those relying on hot sheets to guide their gambles do not have other, inside sources to clue them in. Where will stocks go today, up or down? The market bloweth where it listeth. You pays your money and you takes your chances.

——- Sources ——-
[1] “The Houston Street Tragedy”, New York Times, January 5, 1865.
[3] “Long Call”, TradeKing,
[4] “U.S. Fed Chief Janet Yellen Cancels ‘Liftoff’ of U.S. Interest Rates”, by David Francis. Foreign Policy (blog), July 29, 2015.


About ersjdamoo

Editor of Conspiracy Nation, later renamed Melchizedek Communique. Close associate of the late Sherman H. Skolnick. Jack of all trades, master of none. Sagittarius, with Sagittarius rising. I'm not a bum, I'm a philosopher.
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