Chapter One

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The Orator and the Entrepreneur

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ALBERT LASKER’S ninth birthday party—on May Day, 1889—provides a glimpse of life in Victorian Galveston, Texas, as lived by a fortunate and precocious child.

That afternoon, at 5:00 p.m., in response to a written invitation from “Master Albert Lasker,” more than fifty children assembled on the rolling lawn of his father’s house. His parents, Morris and Nettie, supervised games for the first hour of the party: the ritual May Pole dance followed. Next came the crowning of the May Queen, which (according ...

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