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The Merchant Prince of Black ChicagoAnthony Overton and the Building of a Financial Empire$
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Robert E. Weems

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780252043062

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.5622/illinois/9780252043062.001.0001

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What Goes Up Must Come Down

What Goes Up Must Come Down

The Impact of the Great Depression

Chapter:
(p.118) 5. What Goes Up Must Come Down
Source:
The Merchant Prince of Black Chicago
Author(s):

Robert E. Weems Jr.

Publisher:
University of Illinois Press
DOI:10.5622/illinois/9780252043062.003.0006

In late 1929, Anthony Overton was perceived to be the nation’s most successful black businessman. Yet, by the mid-1930s, the public’s perception of Overton had shifted dramatically. The Great Depression’s negative impact on African American real estate values negatively impacted the profitability of both the Douglass National Bank and the Victory Life Insurance Company. Also, disclosure of Overton’s long-standing, unauthorized funneling of Victory Life funds into Douglass National resulted in his ouster as president of Victory Life. Moreover, despite creative efforts to keep it afloat, the Douglass National Bank ultimately became a casualty of the Depression. In the end, Anthony Overton retained control of the Overton Hygienic Manufacturing Company and the Chicago Bee newspaper but had lost the honorific moniker “the Merchant Prince of his Race.”

Keywords:   Anthony Overton, Great Depression, real estate, Douglass National Bank, Victory Life Insurance Company, Overton Hygienic Manufacturing Company, Chicago Bee

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