This chapter looks at the history of grain trading in the United States. The earliest organized trading of grain took place in Chicago in the 1840s, when farmers, grain processors, brokers, and merchants would congregate at the Haine's Feed Store. Futures trading opened up opportunities for grain speculators, who focused on exploiting price fluctuations in the hope of making a profit. These speculators trading grain elevator receipts were the predecessors of the speculative futures traders we know today—and some would draw a direct line from Haine's Feed Store to the creation of the Chicago Board of Trade. In the years following the Civil War, the futures market came to fruition—and so did the “corner.” This chapter discusses the stories of Benjamin Hutchinson, also known as “Old Hutch,” the first man to corner the wheat market in a big way in the 1880s, and Joseph Leiter, who made a similar attempt just two decades later. It also considers the role played by the amber waves of grain in the emergence of commodities markets in California.
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