PRATIE PLACE

Thursday, September 11, 2008

[Hannah]: "Confidence Men"

"The term 'confidence man' was probably first coined by the New York press in 1849 during coverage of the arrest of a swindler named William Thompson. Thompson was a man of genteel appearance whose trick was to approach a gentleman on the street, chat with him briefly, and then ask whether he had the confidence to lend his watch to a stranger. Upon being handed the watch, Thompson walked off laughing. In this fashion, he succeeded in tricking several New Yorkers out of expensive gold watches..."
--Karen Halttunen, Confidence Men and Painted Women, p. 6

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