In those heady days of 1849, few newcomers to California were
interested in banking, trading or manufacturing. Only a handful, like
Sherman, realized that serving the needs of the miners offered richer
financial opportunity than wielding a pick and shovel. And he was
correct — more money was made by gold rush suppliers like Levi
Strauss than the miners made from their diggings.
Sherman was in the room with Colonel Richard Barnes Mason
in Monterey when the messenger delivered the news of John Wilson
Marshall’s discovery of gold at Sutter’s Mill. When the messenger bag
was opened, Sherman took a gold nugget and tested it between his
teeth. Then, to test its malleability, he hit the nugget with a hammer.
When people hear that General William Tecumseh Sherman was a gold rush banker in California before the Civil War,
they scratch their heads. He is remembered as one of
America’s great military leaders, marching from Atlanta
to the sea with flags flying and bands playing Marching
Through Georgia. To this day, historians marvel at his
natural ability to marshal and evaluate facts in a hectic,
chaotic and confusing environment, distilling them
quickly into plans of action.
In the late 1840s, California was a feverish, frenzied
economy. Banking services were essential to the operations of the gold fields, yet the banks were primitive and
unregulated. Very few of California’s pioneer bankers
actually had much previous banking experience.
Sherman was no exception. What he did have was a
keen mind for facts, a hard common sense and innate
integrity. Before becoming a banker in San Francisco
in 1853, Sherman served in the army in California for
three years and possessed an encyclopedic knowledge
of California gold properties.
Opportunities and Challenges:
Asset-Based Lending in 2018
BY HUGH C. LARRAT T-SMITH
The digital world has transformed every aspect of our lives. Some of us still remember pasting photographs
into albums and racing to answer the telephone mounted on the wall — picking up the receiver without
knowing who was on the other end of the line. Technology has changed asset-based lending in ways no
one could have predicted 20 years ago. ABF Journal contributor Hugh Larratt-Smith explores the evolving
ABL landscape and evaluates the impact these changes will have in 2018.
HUGH C. LARRAT T-SMI TH
“Twenty years ago, the typical ABL borrower often had a significant investment in inventory and accounts receivable. Today,
current assets turn faster since borrowers have the software tools
to manage their working capital more efficiently,”
— Scott Ryan, Managing Director, Wells Fargo Capital Finance
1850 daguerreotype by R.H. Vance shows James Marshall standing in front of
Sutter’s sawmill, Coloma, CA, where he discovered gold.