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James Frederick Joy (2 December, 1810-24 September, 1896) was an American railroad magnate and politician in Detroit.



He was born in Durham, New Hampshire, the son of James Joy (1778-1857) of Groton, Massachussets and Sarah Gee Pickering (1781-1858), daughter of John Pickering,

Education and early career

Educated in Durham, New Hampshire, he entered Dartmouth College, graduating in 1833. From Dartmouth he entered Harvard Law School, from which he graduated in 1836. That year he moved to Detroit and formed a law firm with George F. Porter.

Railroad magnate

In 1846 he entered the railroad business as the lawyer and general counsel to the Michigan Central Railroad. He was subsequently connected with the Illinois Central Railroad. Joy organized the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy railroads, and was for many years its president.

In 1867 he was president of the Michigan Central Railroad and was for several years president of the Wabash, St. Louis and Pacific Railway. He became president and treasurer of the Detroit Union Railway Depot and Station company at Detroit, Michigan.


Joy was intimately involved with politics from his early career. A member of the Whig Party (United States) and subsequently a Republican, for a time he had also been a member of the Free Soil Party. He was a close friend, confidante and supporter of Abraham Lincoln.


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