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Samuel Insull Trial: 1934

"we Are Trying That Age"

The gist of the Insull defense was that the government had to find someone to blame for the ills the Depression had caused. Samuel Insull, as the magic name in the era of million-dollar risks and losses, was the logical culprit. Thompson summarized:

Gentlemen, you have had a description here of an age in American history which we hope never will be repeated. We are trying that age. There is no proof here that anyone had any wrongful motive. There is proof that these men believed implicitly in the business venture in which they were engaged, and they poured their own fortunes and their own good names into it.

The jury agreed. It found all of the defendants not guilty.

Insull faced two more trials. In March 1935, a Cook County jury found him not guilty on the charge of embezzlement. In June in federal district court, he and his son and Harold Stuart were found not guilty of illegally transferring property with intent to prefer selected creditors and defeat the purpose of the Bankruptcy Act.

Insull returned to Paris, where he dropped dead on the street at 78. It was reported that his assets then were $1,000; his debts, $14 million.

Bernard Ryan, Jr.

Suggestions for Further Reading

Busch, Francis X. Guilty or Not Guilty? New York: Bobbs-Merrill Co., 1952.

Davidson, Carla. "Chicago Transit," American Heritage (December 1985) 33-34.

Fleming, Thomas J. "Good-bye to Everything!" American Heritage (August 1965) 89.

Fuhrman, Peter. "Do it big, Sammy," Forbes (July 13, 1987) 278-280.

Michaels, James W. "History lesson," Forbes (December 24, 1990) 38-40.

Phillips, Cabell. The New York Times Chronicle of American Life from the Crash to the Blitz: 1929-1939. New York: Macmillan Co., 1969.

Sifakis, Carl. The Encyclopedia of American Crime. New York: Facts On File, 1982.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1918 to 1940Samuel Insull Trial: 1934 - Inventor Of The "power Pool", Arrested In Istanbul, "the Jewels Of The Insull Empire"