Marhsal Field

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Marshal Field

The elder Marshall Field considered himself the “Chief Apostle of the American Way,” he epitomized the American Dream by becoming one of America’s first rags to riches stories in the industrial boom of both the pre-Antebellum and post-Antebellum periods. Marshall Field was born and raised as a humble farm boy and became perhaps the greatest businessman this country has ever had. Field learned his work ethic as a young boy by direct example of his father, who started working two hours before daybreak and stopped two hours after.

As soon as Marshall could walk, he was working on the family farm. At the age of six, he enrolled in district school only during the winter months when farm work was scarce. He continued these lines of life until the age of fifteen, when the Field family was forced to stop working their farm due to a road closure. At this time it was decided that since Marshall was the youngest son and did not qualify for of the estate property, that he would have to go out and earn his own living.

His father being friends with the local dry goods (general store) owner secured Marshall a clerking job in the dry goods store. Ironically, Marshall was fired from that same job after two weeks. When the father inquired what had happened the owner told him that your son has no future in the dry goods market and he should be kept at home on the farm where he belongs. Marshall Field then began working as a hired hand on his brother’s farm. After two years of being his brother’s servant, he moved to Pittsfield, Massachusetts with his other brother. His brother had secured Marshall a job at the Deacon-H.G. Davis dry goods store. There his first year salary was a measly $400. However, he was able to save two hundred of this by sleeping in the store.

By the time of the 1857 panic, Marshall had modernized Deacon’s credit policies; subsequently Deacon was not monetarily damaged by the panic. By modernizing Deacon’s credit programs Field was able to insure the store’s future by making credit harder to attain, by shortening the amount of time customers had to repay the store. Because of some unwise business dealings the store’s owners had been involved in, the store was reorganized into Cooley, Farwell and Company. Marshall Field was then awarded a partnership for his part in saving the store from the Panic.
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