The Flash Press, Prostitutes and Wall Street

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Long before DealBreaker came along to supply your Wall Street gossip news, there was the so-called "flash press," rag paper weeklies published for a few years in the 1840s specializing in suggestively lascivious subjects, Wall Street sex scandal, fallen women and descriptions of bare-knuckle boxing. The greatest of these, according to the New York Times Book Review, was "The Flash," which was published by William J. Snelling (who would go on to become the publisher of the Boston Herald) George Wilkes (a nineteenth century socialite) and George Wooldridge (who ran the Elssler Saloon at 300 Broadway).
They got themselves in a bit of hot water, however, when they took on Myer Levy, a prominent Wall Street banker who was sometimes called the "Adonis of Wall Street." Myer, the Flash claimed, was a "practical amalgamationist" because of his alleged affinity for sex with women of color.
As it turns out, fighting, whoring, Wall Street mischief and scandalizing tabloids are not recent inventions.


Here's how the Times tells the tale:

In the same issue as [society girl turned prostitute] Amanda Green's memoir -- the details of which were furnished by "Sly" Wooldridge -- was an attack written by Snelling on a Wall Street merchant named Myer Levy. Levy had an enemy, a stockbroker named Emanuel Hart, who fed Wooldridge some specifics of Levy's past, which Wooldridge passed on to Snelling, who dashed off a long calumnious piece alleging that Levy had worked as a "fancy man" for a prostitute and asserting that he was, among other things, lascivious, sordid and crapulous.
Levy complained to the New York district attorney, who promptly charged the three proprietors of The Flash with criminal libel and, in a separate charge, with obscenity.


Sex and the City (Circa 1840)
[New York Times]

Update:
Just in case you were wondering (we sure were) crapulous means "sick from excessive indulgence in liquor" or just perhaps refers to gluttony in general.

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