Greed in the Gilded Age: The Brilliant Con of Cassie Chadwick

Rowman & Littlefield. Feb. 2022. 213p. ISBN 9781538142905. $26. CRIME
Hazelgrove (Sally Rand: American Sex Symbol) chronicles the life and crimes of Cassie Chadwick, who, during the Gilded Age, scammed bankers out of millions of dollars, causing one bank failure and leading to the death of the head of a bank. Chadwick convinced prominent bankers, attorneys, and a reverend that she was the illegitimate daughter of industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie; she even dropped by Carnegie’s home to pretend to retrieve promissory notes. When her scam came to light, she was prosecuted; the ensuing trial generated so much press that Carnegie himself sat in to observe. Hazelgrove vividly sets the scene, drawing intriguing parallels and contrasts between Carnegie and Chadwick—Carnegie ruthlessly punished striking workers who were protesting unsafe working conditions, while Chadwick broke the law in the pursuit of wealth, yet only Chadwick was held accountable. The delightfully sensationalist writing (“questions that rained down like nails into his soul”) evokes the yellow journalism of the era.
VERDICT Readers curious about the Gilded Age or who enjoy stories of con artists will appreciate Hazelgrove’s lively tale of a most ambitious grifter.
Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing