The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 75, July 1971 - April, 1972 Page: 20
The following text was automatically extracted from the image on this page using optical character recognition software:
Southwestern Historical Quarterly
tall, weighing close to two hundred pounds, and always elegantly
dressed, he overcame opposition with a flood of oratory.
A pacifist, mystic, author of church hymns, and a Christian Scien-
tist, Stilwell claimed in his memoirs that his business decisions, such
as the routes of his proposed railroads and the locations of his
urban promotions, were dictated to him during dreams by "Brownies
or Spirits," or, as he often referred to them, "Hunches."' Between
1910o and 1928 he wrote several books about "Wall Street" and
financing World War I, as well as novels and plays, all of which,
he later claimed, were inspired by his "spirit voices."" Stilwell's
remembrances were published serially in The Saturday Evening Post
more than twenty years after these business decisions were made,
and many years after his retirement from an active career.' His
flirtations with "spiritualism" came in a period of his life when he
was unable to successfully exercise his promotional talents and his
revelations brought public attention and increased the sales of his
writings. Despite the widespread publicity which his "spirit world"
publications received, there is no evidence of "Brownies" influencing
Stilwell at the time he was making significant economic decisions.
Even if one discards "spirits or Brownies" as significant factors,
finding a model of entrepreneurial decision-making to fit Arthur
Stilwell's methods has proven difficult. There can be no doubt that
Stilwell often acted without ascertaining the costs of his projects,
the time needed to complete them, and their economic viability.
However, as Thomas Cochran has perceptively suggested, models
depending on rational or consistent economic decisions will always
fail, to some extent, to fit real situations.' In some instances one could
believe that only a "spirit" or a "Brownie" would have suggested
the decisions Stilwell reached; in the majority of instances, the de-
cisions, though entrepreneurial errors, seem to be based on am-
2Arthur E. Stilwell and James R. Crowell, "I Had a Hunch," The Saturday Evening
Post, CC (January 14, 1928), 77-78; Kansas City Journal Post, November 16, 1924.
8At least one of Stilwell's books sold well and went into numerous editions: Canni-
bals of Finance (Chicago, 1912). Others included Confidence or National Suicide?
(New York, 1911) ; How to Reduce Your Income Tax by Liberty Currency (London,
1918); and The Light That Never Failed (London, 192o).
'Arthur E. Stilwell and James R. Crowell, "I Had a Hunch," The Saturday Evening
Post, CC (December, 3, 1927), 3-4, 161-162, 165-166, 168; (December 17, 1927), 24, 26,
96, 98, 1o1-lo2; (December 31, 1927), 24, 26, 77-79; (January 14, 1928), 31, 70, 72,
77-78; (January 28, 1928), 26, 83, 86, 89-91, 94; February 4, 1928), 38, 44, 46.
5Thomas C. Cochran, "Economic History, Old and New," The American Historical
Review, LXXIV (June, 1969), 1567.
Here’s what’s next.
This issue can be searched. Note: Results may vary based on the legibility of text within the document.
Citing and Sharing
Basic information for referencing this web page. We also provide extended guidance on usage rights, references, copying or embedding.
Reference the current page of this Periodical.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 75, July 1971 - April, 1972, periodical, 1972; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101201/m1/32/: accessed May 28, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.