Nathaniel Prime Stocks The Erie Canal

Nathaniel Prime Stocks The Erie Canal

Nathaniel Prime was one of the most important early money men in the United States.

His firm helped create Wall Street as well as fund the Erie Canal.

Nathaniel Prime

During the Washington Administration, the foundations of Wall Street as we know it today were laid. It was about this time that Nathaniel Prime arrived in New York City.

Prime, a man in his late 20’s, had till now made a career as a merchant’s coachman. In this position he carried the wears and investments of several men of means and was able to learn about banking.

Upon landing in New York, Nathaniel set up his own firm: Nathaniel Prime, Stock and Commission Broker.


Prime specialized in buying and selling stocks, something which was relatively uncommon in his day.

Over the years, he was able to ride the quick growth of the young United States and accumulate vast wealth. After twelve years in business, Nathaniel took on his first partner, Samuel Ward III (a grandson of Declaration Signer Samuel Ward).

After also adding his brother in law, Joseph Sands, as a partner, Prime continued the trend of bringing in the children of Founders. He would hire James Gore King (son of Constitution Signer Rufus King) as a partner shortly thereafter.

Erie Canal

The firm, now known as Prime, Ward, Sands, King & Company, established itself as one of the United States’ most respected international investment organizations.

Its most notable achievement was to assist several international banks with investments into the Erie Canal. This helped the Canal complete construction and, once it began operation, made the firm and its clients extraordinary money.

We are accustomed to riding on four lane roads and surfing the internet today, but at the time the Erie Canal was America’s first super highway. It transported both products and information at an astounding rate. This is why the investments became so lucrative.


Nathaniel Prime retired from the firm in his mid-60’s.

Sadly, within a decade, he decided to take his own life. This was done in a very disturbing way (do not read any further if you are squeamish).

For reasons which are known only to him (though it was speculated that he was bored with the mundane existence of retired life), Nathaniel took a knife and cut his own throat from ‘ear to ear.’ He put his razor back on the sink, walked into the next room, and passed out…never to wake up again.

Do you want to learn about other Founders who may (or may not) have attempted suicide?

Well, that’s morbid…but here you go.

Try this article on Meriwether Lewis and Chief Justice John Rutledge.

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Want to read a book about the Erie Canal?

You’re in luck!

‘Wedding of the Waters’ elaborates on the construction of the Canal and its importance to the nation. Pick up a copy through the Amazon affiliate link below (you’ll support this site, but don’t worry, Amazon pays me while your price stays the same).

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