Day (Sept. 24, 1869) when plunging gold prices precipitated a U.S. stock-market panic. An attempt by Jay Gould and James Fisk to corner the market in gold and drive up its price depended on preventing the sale of government gold, an arrangement assured through the two men's political influence. When Pres. Ulysses S. Grant heard of the scheme, he ordered the government to sell $4 million in gold, which caused the price to drop and produced a panic selling of other stocks.
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In the late summer of 1869, Gould began buying large amounts of gold. This caused prices to rise and stocks to plummet. After Grant realized what had happened, the federal government sold $4 million in gold. On September 20, 1869, Gould and Fisk started hoarding gold, driving the price higher. On September 24 the premium on a gold Double Eagle (representing one troy ounce of gold bullion at $20) was 30 percent higher than when Grant took office. But when the government gold hit the market, the premium plummeted within minutes. Investors scrambled to sell their holdings, and many of them, including Corbin, were ruined. Fisk and Gould escaped significant financial harm.
Subsequent Congressional investigation into the scandal was limited because Virginia Corbin and First Lady Julia Grant were not permitted to testify. However, Butterfield resigned from the U.S. Treasury. Henry Adams, who believed that President Ulysses S. Grant had tolerated, encouraged, and perhaps even participated in corruption and swindles, attacked Grant in an 1870 article entitled The New York Gold Conspiracy.