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September 9, 2011

Historical Echoes: Meet William McChesney Martin Jr.

New York Fed Research Library

William McChesney Martin Jr. (1906-98) was chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System from 1951 to 1970, serving under five U.S. presidents. (His father, incidentally, was president of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.) In 1938, at the age of thirty-one, Martin was elected president of the New York Stock Exchange, becoming the youngest salaried president of the exchange.

    Martin was a teetotaler who never drank anything stronger than hot chocolate. He was also an arts patron; indeed, he furnished funds for the production of Dilly Dally, a musical review.

    This film clip of William McChesney Martin’s address to the NYSE—delivered after becoming chief—is the first newsreel footage shot on the exchange floor. The absence of sound does little to diminish the sense of frenzied activity exhibited by the traders. Note the hats hanging in the oval area that seems to mark the pit—a bygone era—before the adoption of business-casual dress and the introduction of electronic trading.

    For more about “Mr. Chocolate” and other 1930s key players on Wall Street, check out the cover story in the August 15, 1938, issue of Time.

The views expressed in this post are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the position of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York or the Federal Reserve System. Any errors or omissions are the responsibility of the author(s).

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