Jay Gould: Wikis


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Jay Gould
Born Jason Gould
May 27, 1836(1836-05-27)
Roxbury, New York, United States
Died December 2, 1892 (aged 56)
Manhattan, New York, United States
Occupation Financier
Spouse(s) Helen Day Miller (1838-1889) (m. 1863–1889) «start: (1863)–end+1: (1890)»"Marriage: Helen Day Miller (1838-1889) to Jay Gould" Location: (linkback:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jay_Gould)
Children George Jay Gould I
Edwin Gould I
Helen Gould
Anna Gould
Frank Jay Gould
Parents John Burr Gould (1792-1866)
Mary More Gould (1798-1841)

Jason "Jay" Gould (May 27, 1836 – December 2, 1892) was an American financier who became a leading American railroad developer and speculator. Although he has long been vilified as an archetypal robber baron, whose successes made him the ninth richest American in history,[1] some modern historians working from primary sources have discounted various myths about him.[2][3]


Birth and early career

Jason Gould was born in Roxbury, New York, the son of John Burr Gould (1792–1866) and Mary Moore Gould (1798–1841), a poor family. Gould's father was of British colonial ancestry, and his mother of Scottish ancestry. He studied at the Hobart Academy, but left at age 16 to work for his father in the hardware business. He continued to devote himself to private study, emphasizing surveying and mathematics. In 1856 he published History of Delaware County, and Border Wars of New York which he had spent several years writing.[4]

Gould later went to work in the lumber and tanning business in western New York (founding Gouldsboro in a joint-venture with Zadock Pratt)[5] and then became involved with banking in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania.


He married Helen Day Miller (1838–1889) in 1863 and had six children:

The Tweed Ring

It was during the same period that Gould and James Fisk became involved with Tammany Hall. They made Boss Tweed a director of the Erie Railroad, and Tweed, in return, arranged favorable legislation for them. Tweed and Gould became the subjects of political cartoons by Thomas Nast in 1869. In October 1871, when Tweed was held on $1 million bail, Gould was the chief bondsman.

Black Friday

Jay Gould in 1855

In August 1869, Gould and Fisk began to buy gold in an attempt to corner the market, hoping that the increase in the price of gold would increase the price of wheat such that western farmers would sell, causing a great amount of shipping of bread stuffs eastward, increasing freight business for the Erie railroad. During this time, Gould used contacts with President Ulysses S. Grant's brother-in-law, Abel Corbin, to try to influence the president and his Secretary General Horace Porter. These speculations in gold culminated in the panic of Black Friday, on September 24, 1869, when the premium over face value on a gold Double Eagle fell from 62% to 35%. Gould made a nominal profit from this operation, but lost it in the subsequent lawsuits.

The gold corner established Gould's reputation in the press as an all-powerful figure who could drive the market up and down at will. For the rest of his life, newspaper writers would attribute to Gould almost any market development they could not explain otherwise.[citation needed]

Lord Gordon-Gordon

Lord Gordon-Gordon

In 1873 Gould attempted to take control of the Erie Railroad by getting foreign investments from Lord Gordon-Gordon, a cousin of the Campbells looking to buy land for immigrants, Gould bribed Gordon-Gordon with $1 Million in stock. However, Gordon-Gordon turned out to be a fraud, cashing the stock immediately. Gould sued Gordon-Gordon, with Gordon-Gordon put on trial in March 1873. Gordon-Gordon gave the names of his European personages in court, whom he claimed to represent, and was granted bail while the references were checked. Gordon-Gordon took this opportunity to flee to Canada, where he convinced authorities that the allegations brought against him were false.[12][13]

After failing to convince or force Canadian authorities to hand over Gordon-Gordon, Gould and his associates, which included two future Governors of Minnesota and three future Members of Congress, attempted to kidnap him. The group was successful, but were stopped and arrested by the Northwest Mounted Police before they could return to the United States. The kidnappers were put in prison and refused bail.[12][13] This led to an international incident between the United States and Canada. Upon learning that the kidnappers were not given bail, Governor Horace Austin of Minnesota demanded their return and put the local militia on a state of full readiness. Thousands of Minnesotans volunteered for a full military invasion of Canada. However, after negotiations, the Canadian authorities released the kidnappers on bail.[12][13]

The whole incident resulted in Gould losing any possibility of taking control of Erie Railroad.

Late career

Jay Gould's Pullman Company rail car "Atalanta" now in Jefferson, Texas

After being forced out of the Erie Railroad, Gould started, in 1879, to build up a system of railroads in the Midwest by gaining control of four western railroads, including the Union Pacific and the Missouri Pacific Railroad. In 1880, he was in control of 10,000 miles (16,000 km) of railway, about one-ninth of the length of rail in the United States at that time, and, by 1882, he had controlling interest in 15% of the country's tracks. Gould withdrew from management of the UP in 1883 amidst political controversy over its debts to the federal government, realizing a large profit for himself.

Gould also obtained a controlling interest in the Western Union telegraph company, and, after 1881, in the elevated railways in New York City. Ultimately, he was connected with many of the largest railway financial operations in the United States from 1868-1888. During the Great Southwest Railroad Strike of 1886 he hired strikebreakers; according to labor unionists, he said at the time, "I can hire one-half of the working class to kill the other half."[citation needed]

He was a member of West Presbyterian Church (New York City) at 31 West 42nd Street, which later merged with Park Presbyterian to form form West-Park Presbyterian (New York City).[14]


The mausoleum of Jay Gould

Gould died of tuberculosis on December 2, 1892 and was interred in the Woodlawn Cemetery in The Bronx, New York. His fortune was conservatively estimated to be $72 million for tax purposes. Although a donor to charity from the 1870s onward, he willed all of his fortune to his family. At the time of his death, Gould was a benefactor in the reconstruction of the Reformed Church of Roxbury, now the Jay Gould Memorial Reformed Church.[15] It is located within the Main Street Historic District and listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1988.[16] The family mausoleum was designed by Francis O'Hara (1830–1900) of Ireland. Gould's mausoleum contains no external identification.


A Duke Tobacco cigarette card depicting Gould's involvement in railroads, stock, and telegraph

In his lifetime and for a century after, Gould had a firm reputation as the most unscrupulous of the 19th century American businessmen known as robber barons. Many times he allowed his rivals to believe that he was beaten, then sprang some legal or contractual loophole on them that completely reversed the situation and gave him the advantage. He had no scruples about using stock manipulation and insider trading (which were then legal but frowned upon) to build capital and to execute or prevent hostile takeovers. As a result, many contemporary businessmen could not compete, did not trust Gould and often expressed contempt for his approach to business. John D. Rockefeller named him as the most skilled businessman he ever encountered.

The New York City press published many rumors about Gould that biographers passed on as fact. For example, they alleged that Gould's dealings in the tanning business drove his partner Charles Leupp to suicide. In fact, Leupp had episodes of mania and depression that psychiatrists would now recognize as indications of bipolar disorder, and his family knew that this, not his business dealings, caused his death. These biographers portrayed Gould as a parasite who extracted money from businesses and took no interest in improving them. He was often suspected of being Jewish due to his name and business acumen as well as his large nose, and was depicted in anti-semitic caricatures, even though he was born a Presbyterian and married an Episcopalian.

See also


  1. '^ In Fortune Magazines "richest Americans, with an estimated wealth at death of $77,000,000 Gould's Wealth/GDP ratio equalled 1/185.
  2. ^ Klein, Maury (1997). The Life and Legend of Jay Gould. 
  3. ^ Rennehan, Edward J., Jr. (2005). Dark Genius of Wall Street. 
  4. ^ Gould, Jay (1856P). History of Delaware County. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania?: Keeny & Gould. 
  5. ^ Jay Gould and the Leather Industry: Success or failure? by Lucius F. Ellsworth, http://www.h-net.org/~business/bhcweb/publications/BEHprint/v02/ellsworth.pdf
  6. ^ "George J. Gould Dies in Villa in France. Leaves $30,000,000. With His Second Wife and Her Children Near, He Yearned for His Sons. Last Malady a Secret. Death Holds Up Litigation With Family Over His Father's Estate. First Became Ill in March. Had Apparently Regained Health When He Suffered a Relapse.". New York Times. May 17, 1923. http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F00911FC3B5516738DDDAE0994DD405B838EF1D3. Retrieved 2008-05-23. "George Jay Gould died this morning at 3:30 o'clock at the Villa Zoralde, Cap Martin, where he had been living for some months with his wife and her two children. His death, it was stated at the villa, came quietly and was expected, as he had never rallied from the illness from which he had been suffering all Winter." 
  7. ^ "Edwin Gould Dies Suddenly at 67. Son of Railroad Financier and Builder Was Noted for Benefactions to Children. Left School of Finance. Made $1,000,000 Profit Operating Alone in Wall Street Before Father Forgave Him.". New York Times. July 13, 1933. http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F40B14FD385C16738DDDAA0994DF405B838FF1D3. Retrieved 2008-08-06. "Edwin Gould, second son of the late Jay Gould, financier and railroad builder, died suddenly of a heart attack shortly after ..." 
  8. ^ "Mrs. F. J. Shepard Dies of a Stroke. Former Helen Gould, Famous for Philanthropy, Stricken at Her Summer Home Gave Away Much of Fortune. Mrs. Finley J. Shepard Is Stricken at 70. Philanthropist and Daughter of Jay Gould Got Permission to Marry. Wed at Lyndhurst. Benefactions in War With Spain. Descendant of Pioneers.". New York Times. December 21, 1938, Wednesday. http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F60F12FE3F5F1B7A93C3AB1789D95F4C8385F9. Retrieved 2007-06-18. "Mrs. Finley J. Shepard of New York, the former Helen Gould, who was famous for her philanthropies in many fields, died at her Summer home here at 12:15 this morning, after being in a coma for more than 24 hours. She had suffered an apoplectic stroke ten days ago, and had been ill for two months. Her age was 70 years." 
  9. ^ "Howard Gould dies here at 88. last surviving son of Jay Gould, rail financier, yachtsman, auto racer.". New York Times. September 15, 1959. http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F10E16FF3F551B7B93C7A81782D85F4D8585F9. Retrieved 2007-06-21. "Howard Gould, last surviving son of Jay Gould, the railroad financier, died Sunday in Doctors Hospital. He was 88 years old. Although Mr. Gould's res idence ..." 
  10. ^ "Duchesse de Talleyrand Is Dead. Youngest daughter of Jay Gould". New York Times. November 30, 1961. http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=FB0A14F6355912738DDDA90B94D9415B818AF1D3. Retrieved 2008-08-06. "The Duchesse de Talleyrand-Périgord, daughter of the late Jay Gould, American railroad financier, died today in Paris where she passed most of her life." 
  11. ^ "Frank Jay Gould Dead on Riviera. Youngest Son of Rail Empire Maker was 78. Built Up Resort of Juan-les-Pins Heir to $10,000,000 N.Y.U. Graduate of 1899.". Associated Press in New York Times. April 1, 1956. http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F50F16F93F5F157A93C3A9178FD85F428585F9&scp=1&sq=Frank+Jay+Gould&st=p. Retrieved 2008-04-06. "Frank Jay Gould died today at his apartment at Juanles-Pins on the French Riviera. He was 78 years old." 
  12. ^ a b c Donaldson, William (2004-09-02). Brewer's Rogues, Villains and Eccentrics. London: Phoenix. pp. 299–300. ISBN 0-75381-791-8. 
  13. ^ a b c Johnson, J. L.. "Lord Gordon Gordon". The Manitoba Historical Society. http://www.mhs.mb.ca/docs/transactions/3/lordgordongordon.shtml. Retrieved 2008-08-22. 
  14. ^ New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. "Designation List 425"
  15. ^ History of the Reformed Church of Roxbury, NY
  16. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2009-03-13. http://www.nr.nps.gov/. 


  • 1836 Birth of Jay Gould as Jason Gould
  • 1841 Death of Mary Moore Gould, mother
  • 1850 US Census with Jay Gould in Roxbury, New York
  • 1856 Publication of History of Delaware County
  • 1863 Marriage to Helen Day Miller (1838–1889)
  • 1864 Birth of George Jay Gould I, his son
  • 1866 Death of John Burr Gould, his father
  • 1866 Birth of Edwin Gould, his son
  • 1868 Birth of Helen Gould, his daughter
  • 1869 Black Friday
  • 1870 US Census in first Manhattan home
  • 1870 US Census in second Manhattan home
  • 1871 Birth of Howard Gould, his son
  • 1875 Birth of Anna Gould, his daughter
  • 1877 Birth of Frank Gould, his son
  • 1880 Purchase of Lyndehurst from the widow of George Merritt, shortening name to Lyndhurst
  • 1880 US Census with Jay Gould in Greenburgh, New York
  • 1889 Death of Helen Day Miller, his wife
  • 1892 Death of Jay Gould

Further reading

  • Renehan, Edward J. (2005). The Dark Genius Of Wall Street: The Misunderstood Life of Jay Gould, King of the Robber Barons. New York: BasicBooks. ISBN 0465068855. 
  • Morris, Charles R. (2005). The Tycoons: How Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller, Jay Gould, and J.P. Morgan Invented the American Supereconomy. New York: Holt. ISBN 0805075992. 
  • "George Gould marries". New York Times. 1886-09-15. 
  • "Howard Gould marries". New York Times. 1898-10-13. 
  • "Howard Gould dies here at 88; last surviving son of Jay Gould, rail financier — yachtsman, auto racer". New York Times. 1959-09-15. 

External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Jay Gould (May 27, 1836December 2, 1892), born Jason Gould, was an American financier and railroad developer.



  • I have the disadvantage of not being sociable. Wall Street men are fond of company and sport. A man makes one hundred thousand dollars there and immediately buys a yacht, begins to race fast horses, and becomes a sport generally. My tastes lie in a different direction. When business hours are over I go home and spend the remainder of the day with my wife, my children, and books of my library. Every man has natural inclinations of his own. Mine are domestic. They are not calculated to make me particularly popular in Wall Street, and I cannot help that.
    • Comment to a reporter, quoted in Maury Klein's The Life and Legend of Jay Gould
  • The effect of this policy will be to annihilate the Indians & so greatly benefit us.
    • From a letter to a business associate, quoted in Maury Klein's The Life and Legend of Jay Gould


  • I can hire one half of the working class to kill the other half.
    • On his strikebreaking activities during the Great Southwest Railroad Strike of 1886.
    • Widely quoted, see for example The Little, Brown Book of Anecdotes, Clifton Fadiman, Little Brown, October 1985, ISBN 0-316-27301-5.


  • Gould lets everyone carry out his own corpse.
  • I do not believe that since man was in the habit of living on this planet anyone has ever lived possessed of the impudence of Jay Gould.
    • Robert G. Ingersoll, in Richard O'Connor, Gould's Millions, Greenwood Press, 1973, ISBN 0-837-16875-9, p. 132.

External links

Wikipedia has an article about:

Source material

Up to date as of January 22, 2010

From Wikisource


History of Delaware County

It is usual for authors, in the preface to their productions, to cite to the reader all the good qualities of their writings, and especially those which their own imaginations suggest, and which, unless mentioned, might otherwise have been passed over unnoticed. I shall then deviate from this ancient established usage of writers, for various, and to myself obvious reasons, the most prominent of which is, that I esteem that class of persons into whose hands this work may fall, as an intelligent and reading people, better prepared to pass judgment than myself, who if they utter criticism, will base their opinions upon the merit of the work itself, aside from the self- eulogistic encomiums of the author. I do not claim that this work is free from error; perfection, in a history of this character, where much of the information to be relied upon is of an oral and indefinite nature, is an impossibility. I have been careful to weigh all the statements presented - to discriminate between truth and fiction - and have suppressed much apparently interesting matter, which lacked the proper authenticity, or conflicted with truth; still, doubtless, there is room for improvement. I claim no honor for having been the tell-tale of the past. The having simply told what others have done, is far from implying, that had we been placed in the same situation, and affected by the same circumstances, we would have acted the same noble part. It is one thing to write, another to do: - "Give honor to whom honor is due." And if, after perusing what we have been enabled to glean of the history of the acts and actors of the past, you are enabled to discern in them anything noble - anything worthy of your admiration and emulation, then treasure up for the hardy and industrious pioneer a kind and grateful remembrance - then cherish in sincerity, long after the author has said his say, a fond appreciation of these Spartan sires, whose ashes are now mouldering in the tomb, and whose tongues have become silent and speechless, palsied by death. I would take this opportunity of returning my sincere thanks to all who have interested themselves in furnishing material for the completion of this work.

Source: Jay Gould (1836-1892); Preface to History of Delaware County, 1856

He is dead. Close of the Life of Jay Gould, the Great Financier.

He Falls a Victim to Consumption. The End Came Peacefully. Sketch of His Career. New York, December 03, 1892. Jay Gould died at 9:15 o’clock a.m. The direct cause of Mr. Gould’s death, as stated at the house, was pulmonary consumption. The scene at the house at midnight was not extraordinary, as it was stated at that time that the strong master mind had ceased to battle for life. His children were at his bedside and they recognized that the hopes of the past few days were vanishing and that the end was not far off. They tearfully admitted this to a few close personal friends, and then began the vigil which only ceased when his last breath left the body. Dr. Munn, his physician, had Dr. Janeway in consultation, but they said that nothing could be done but make Mr. Gould’s last hours as comfortable as possible. When the end came the members of the family who were in the house were: Mr. and Mrs. George Gould, Mr. and Mrs. Edwin Gould, Miss Helen Gould, Howard Gould, Harold Gould and Miss Annie Gould.

Bade Them All Good-By

Mr. Gould died in a room on the second floor of his home in the extension in the rear of the building, just over the conservatory, the same room in which his wife died. A few moments before he died Mr. Gould desired to bid his family good-by. Then he looked tenderly into the face of each one, smiled at each and all was over. The Gould family are prostrated with grief. Miss Helen Gould was ill when her father was taken sick, and the blow has come upon her with terrible force. The members of the family are very much devoted to each other. Mr. Gould had always been very much of a domestic man, notwithstanding his weight of cares from his gigantic financial operations, and the death of the father so shortly after the demise of the mother has come with an added force of affliction.

A Peaceful End

Dr. Munn came out of the house at 11:22, after being there half an hour. He told a little about the death scene. He said that Mr. Gould was unconscious of his death and passed away very peacefully and quietly, without a struggle or a sigh. He became speechless through weakness just before his death, and at that time recognized the members of the family by nodding his head.

The News Spreads

The news of Mr. Gould’s death spread quickly and almost every person who passed up or down Fifth avenue stopped and looked up at the house. About ten o’clock messenger boys began to go and come thick and fast. Richard A. Galloway, first vice president of the Manhattan elevated railroad, called before 10 o’clock. Several ladies also called, but none of them asked to see members of the family. They evidently had no other purpose than to inquire about Mr. Gould’s condition and when they learned of his death they quickly hurried away.

The Market Not Affected

The death of the great financier inspired unusual regret, but it did not cause any sensational break in the stock market, in which, for twenty years, he was the most important figure. The market was not even shaken, mainly because Mr. Gould had provided against it by placing his immense holdings in the hand of men whose integrity he trusted. There was no considerable sale of securities known as Gould stocks and no attempt to force a panic was made.

Funeral Arrangements

It has been definitely settled that the funeral services will be conducted by Dr. Paxton, assisted by Chancellor McCrachen, of the university of New York, and Rev. Roderick Terry, of 169 Madison avenue. The choir from Dr. Paxton’s church will also be present and render the singing. Dr. Paxton said that the funeral would take place on Monday next, either at 10 o’clock in the morning or at 4 o’clock in the afternoon, the exact hour not yet having been settled. The funeral services will be held at the house. The place of interment will probably be in the same cemetery where his wife lies.

Wealthiest Man in the World

When Jay Gould balanced his books the first of the year the figures showed that he was the richest man in the world. One year before John D. Rockefeller headed the list and William W. Astor, representing the Astor family, was next. These two men were then rated at $150,000,000 and $140,000,000 respectively. Mr. Gould was next with $125,000, 000. The next showing placed Mr. Gould at the top, and it is not because either of the other two lost any money, but because he made more. The magnitude of the feat of doubling a fortune of $125,000,000 in one year has the elements of a tale of the “Arabian Nights” in the telling, but just the same it is asserted, and with probable truth, that this is what Mr. Gould did. The richest family in the world is, of course, the Rothschilds, whose combined holdings are valued at £300,000,000, or $1,000,000,000, yet no single member of the family is worth more than $40,000,000. The next richest European is the duke of Westminster, who owns a part of the city of London, which, together with his other possessions, most of which island, makes his fortune in round numbers about $80,000,000. There are five men in this country who have more money than that. John D. Rockefeller has $150,000,000; W.W. Astor, $140,000,000; Cornelius Vanderbilt, $90,000,000; William K. Vanderbilt about $80,000,000. All of them except Gould and Rockefeller inherited the bulk of their fortunes. The Vanderbilt family has probably as much money as Gould, yet he had more than any two members of it, and , what is more, he made it all himself. Some of the other wealthy people in this country are Collis P. Huntington, who is rated at $45,000,000; Russell Sage, $40,000,000; William Rockefeller, Leland Stanford, Mrs. Hetty Green, William Astor, each $30,000,000 or $25,000,000; Philip D, Armour, the Mark Hopkins estate, the Charles Crocker estate, Henry Hilton and D.O. Mills, $25,000,000, and A.J. Drexel, J. Pierpont Morgan, Andrew Carnegie, O.H. Payne, F.W. Vanderbilt, George W. Vanderbilt and their sisters, Mrs. E.F. Shepard, Mrs. W.D. Sloane, Mrs. H. McK. Twombley and Mrs. W. Seward Webb; George M. Pullman, J.W. McKay, Robert and Ogden Goelet, Mrs. Moses Taylor, James Gordon Bennett, David H. Moffat, ex-Senator Fair and the Flood estate, each of which controls between $5,000,000 and $20,000,000.

His Career

When Jay Gould began business in this city he possessed $750,000, but the path he trod to earn it was rough and stormy, and his capital varied at different times from five dollars to ten cents. He was born in Roxbury, Delaware county, N.Y., May 27, 1835, of parents who worked a small farm and were people of strong sense and sturdy integrity. Jay was kept on the farm until he was 12 years old, but his father found him of small account. He had little schooling save that given by his older sister, who aided him in the study of mathematics. He developed early and importuned his father to send him to an academy at some distance from Roxbury. His father could not afford this, but the boy determined to go to the academy and pay his own expenses, and he did go, his entire worldly goods upon leaving home being fifty cents in his pocket and the clothes upon his back. Thirty-two years later, being charged with treacherously selling out his associates, he laid upon a table stocks and bonds of his own of the value of $35,000,000.

Tinsmith and Surveyor

Arrived at Hobart, and canvassing the town for work, he got a chance to keep books for the village blacksmith, who had started a little store next the shop. This helped him out. He spent mornings and evenings with the son of Vulcan and paid his way at school. He rested little, played little, talked little, worked hard and made surprising progress. In six months he learned what the academy had to teach and left it. He then obtained employment in a tin shop and learned to make pails, pans and cups, while his evenings were spent in study. He made himself so useful that at the age of 15 he was a full partner in the concern, and when he visited Albany and New York to purchase material he succeeded in opening accounts with Phelps, Dodge and Co., and other firms well known to the public. The tin shop was profitable but slow, and in 1852 he transferred his interest to his father and arranged to take charge of a surveying party at $20 a month, the object being to obtain a new and accurate map of Ulster county. He organized his party and started with five dollars in his pocket; walked 40 miles the first day and worked a fortnight, when his employer suddenly ‘‘failed” before he had been paid a cent. Gould at once resolved to carry out the survey himself.

A Tanner, Also

A respectable sum was received from the map. Young Gould now became a professional surveyor and civil engineer. He mapped Albany, Ulster, Greene and Delaware counties in New York, Lake and Geauga counties in Ohio, and Oakland county in Michigan; made the surveys for a plank road and a railroad, wrote and published a history of Delaware county, started a tannery, where he employed 250 men, built a town (Gouldsboro) and established a bank and carried it through the panic of 1857 before he was 21.

Gets Married

He sold an interest in the town for $80,000 and invested the money in depreciated railroad securities after the panic. It was during one of Mr. Gould’s occasional visits to New York about this time that he noticed in the window of an Everett house room — he was a guest there at the time — an attractive-looking young lady. He saw her frequently and after observing her bowed. She did the same. A mild flirtation ensued. Chance brought the two young people together, and, after a slight acquaintance, without the knowledge of her father, Mr. Miller, they were married.

He Enters "the Street"

Reconciliation followed, and this opened the door to railroad speculations, as Mr. Miller influenced the employment of Mr. Gould as manager of the Rensselaer and Saratoga railroad, connecting Troy and Saratoga. This road was under a cloud and its securities were selling for a few cents on the dollar. Here was Gould’s opportunity. He managed the road well, made valuable and paying connections and brought it up to positive value. Meantime, little by little, Gould obtained possession of it all. He paid about five cents on the dollar for stock to all but Vanderbilt, who made him pay fifteen cents, and the consequence was that after selling out again he returned to New York with a clean credit of $75,000. With this he entered "the street."

Secures Control of the Erie

The rise and progress and ups and downs of Erie are a romance In themselves, of which the most enlivening chapter pertains to the connection of Jay Gould and Jim Fisk, Jr., with its control. The result was a compromise between Gould and Vanderbilt, the latter being relieved of 50,000 shares, for which he received $2,500,000 in bonds and other concessions not pertinent to this article. Before he left the management the Erie stock was expanded in less than three years from $34,000,000 to $86,000,000—an increase of $52,000,000.

"Black Friday" Comes

Mr. Gould was for years chief among the great gold operators. In March, 1869, gold was “down” to 131. Gould purchased $7,000,000, and then, by adroit playing on the market’s dread of Cuban insurrections, the Alabama trouble and European complications, rushed the price up to 145. The enormous success of this move emboldened him, who was daring enough (illegible word)

in his quiet study (illegible word)
the financial center of the nation. He determined to send gold up to 200.

Friday, September 24, forever memorable as Black Friday, came. The plan was for the clique to call for the $80,000,000 bought on option, lock up the gold in the stock exchange vaults, and then force the bears, whose short interest was estimated at $250,000,000 to settle as best they might. The Tenth national bank was controlled by the clique, and was ready to certify their checks to any amount to facilitate the shifting of the gold. Albert Speyers bought for them $26,000,000. As the price jumped Gould’s agents were forcing the timid bears into settlement. William Heath bid 160 for a million. The crowd hesitated; no one dared accept the offer, as the price was on the upward bound. Meanwhile Gould’s partners were settling up millions and millions with the thoroughly frightened bears, and pandemonium raged the length of the street. While Gould’s agent was bidding 160, 161 and 162 for millions Gould’s other agents were selling all the gold they could privately at 135 and 140. During all the excitement and uproar Gould was calm and collected. Never did he have such a drain on his nerve as this, but he met the demand with a full supply. When the price touched 162½ some one called out: “Government is selling this ten millions.” It was a great shock, a great relief. In ten minutes the rate was 135 and with bewildered brains and pallid faces hundreds of ruined operators rushed into the darkness of their private offices to weep and wail over the wrecks of their fortunes. The ruin wrought by the speculation cannot be overestimated. Failures and suicides followed hard on each other, and nothing but the vigorous efforts of Vanderbilt and Drew, aided by the wise assistance of the government, stemmed the tide that bade fair to bear the soundest into bankruptcy. Gould’s wily sales of gold at the time his agents were forcing up the price netted him immense sums.

Pacific Mail

At one time Gould cast his eye on Pacific Mail and hammered the price down some 25 per cent. He had made some large contracts for delivery, and when the time came secured the stock at low rates and cleared several millions on the differences. He also made largely by a 40 per cent. rise in Union Pacific.

Western Union

Mr. Gould’s connection with the Western Union Telegraph Company began in the early part of 1881. For a number of years, with the aid of the American Union and the Atlantic and Pacific Telegraph companies, which he controlled, he was able to advance and depress the stock of the Western Union at will. He was simply playing a great game with his larger rival and waiting the chance when he would take possession and unite all the lines. In 1881 Mr. Gould and his associates had practically secured control of the Western Union. The stock of the Western Union Telegraph Company was at once "watered" $40,000.000, or 87 per cent, and Mr. Gould became the leading spirit in that company, directing its affairs from his offices, which were in that building. Nothing Mr. Gould ever did in his life so arrayed public sentiment against him as this creation of the telegraphic monopoly. Eventually the Western Union acquired the Baltimore and Ohio telegraph, which Robert Garrett was glad to sell in order to get money to help the Baltimore and Ohio railroad out of the difficulty into which it had fallen.

On the Brink of Ruin

Gould’s fortune was on the verge of ruin during the second week of May, 1884, that period of wild financial dread and distrust following the failure of Grant and Ward. He was nearer being “broke” then than at any period since Black Friday. Then he threw the burden by wily manipulation on his opponents, combined to compass his undoing if it were possible, and ... things seemed possible in those days when the panics of 1857 and 1873 bade fair to find their parallel in Wall street. It was generally known that Gould was heavily involved in the smash of Grant and Ward, and he soon found arrayed against him every bear operator in the street. Before Mr. Gould extricated himself from his difficulties he sold out his entire holding of stock in the Mercantile Trust Company. From company after company Mr. Gould retired, and it was not until the summer of 1884 was well advanced that he rested easily and could look complacently on the market and call it his own. During the year more than forty railroads had passed into the hands of receivers, among them the New York and. New England road, in which Mr. Gould had been particularly interested.


The Gould summer house is at "Lyndhurst," near Irvington, up the Hudson, and comprises about 600 acres of beautiful land and one of the finest conservatories and graperies in America. Rare plants and rare flowers have been sent to him from all parts of the world, so that the place is stocked with choice plants. Mr. Gould made a close study of botany and could call most of the plants byname. His gallery contains hundreds of valuable paintings. His own taste ran to modern art, best works of the French masters, Meissouler, Millet, Delaroche, Bouguereau, Delacroix and others.

  • Source: Iowa City Daily Citizen, Saturday, December 03, 1892
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Jay Gould.

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

JAY GOULD (1836-1892), American financier, was born in Roxbury, Delaware county, New York, on the 27th of May 1836. He was brought up on his father's farm, studied at Hobart Academy, and though he left school in his sixteenth year, devoted himself assiduously thereafter to private study, chiefly of mathematics and surveying, at the same time keeping books for a blacksmith for his board. For a short time he worked for his father in the hardware business; in1852-1856he worked as a surveyor in preparing maps of Ulster, Albany and Delaware counties in New York, of Lake and Geauga counties in Ohio, and of Oakland county in Michigan, and of a projected railway line between Newburgh and Syracuse, N.Y. An ardent anti-renter in his boyhood and youth, he wrote A History of Delaware County and the Border Wars of New York, containing a Sketch of the Early Settlements in the County, and A History of the Late Anti-Rent Difficulties in Delaware (Roxbury, 1856). He then engaged in the lumber and tanning business in western New York, and in banking at Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania. In 1863 he married Miss Helen Day Miller, and through her father, Daniel S. Miller, he was appointed manager of the Rensselaer & Saratoga railway, which he bought up when it was in a very bad condition, and skilfully reorganized; in the same way he bought and reorganized the Rutland & Washington railway, from which he ultimately realized a large profit. In 1859 he removed to New York City, where he became a broker in railway stocks, and in 1868 he was elected president of the Erie railway, of which by shrewd strategy he and James Fisk, Jr.(q.v.), had gained control in July of that year. The management of the road under his control, and especially the sale of $5,000,000 of fraudulent stock in 1868-1870, led to litigation begun by English bondholders, and Gould was forced out of the company in March 1872 and compelled to restore securities valued at about $7,500, 0 00. It was during his control of the Erie that he and Fisk entered into a league with the Tweed Ring, they admitted Tweed to the directorate of the Erie, and Tweed in turn arranged favourable legislation for them at Albany. With Tweed, Gould was cartooned by Nast in 1869. In October 1871 Gould was the chief bondsman of Tweed when the latter was held in $1,000,000 bail. With Fisk in August 1869 he began to buy gold in a daring attempt to "corner" the market, his hope being that, with the advance in price of gold, wheat would advance to such a price that western farmers would sell, and there would be a consequent great movement of breadstuffs from West to East, which would result in increased freight business for the Erie road. His speculations in gold, during which he attempted through President Grant's brother-in-law, A. H. Corbin, to influence the president and his secretary General Horace Porter, culminated in the panic of "Black Friday," on the 24th of September 1869, when the price of gold fell from 162 to 135.

Gould gained control of the Union Pacific, from which in 1883 he withdrew after realizing a large profit. Buying up the stock of the Missouri Pacific he built up, by means of consolidations, reorganizations, and the construction of branch lines, the "Gould System" of railways in the south-western states. In 1880 he was in virtual control of Io,000 miles of railway, about one-ninth of the railway mileage of the United States at that time. Besides, he obtained a controlling interest in the Western Union Telegraph Company, and after 1881 in the elevated railways in New York City, and was intimately connected with many of the largest railway financial operations in the United States for the twenty years following 1868. He died of consumption and of mental strain on the 2nd of December 1892, his fortune at that time being estimated at $72,000,000; all of this he left to his own family.

His eldest son, George Jay Gould (b. 1864), was prominent also as an owner and manager of railways, and became president of the Little Rock & Fort Smith railway (1888), the St Louis, Iron Mountain & Southern railway (1893), the International & Great Northern railway (1893), the Missouri Pacific railway (1893), the Texas & Pacific railway (1893), and the Manhattan Railway Company (1892); he was also vice-president and director of the Western Union Telegraph Company. It was under his control that the Wabash system became transcontinental and secured an Atlantic port at Baltimore; and it was he who brought about a friendly alliance between the Gould and the Rockefeller interests.

The eldest daughter, Helen Miller Gould (b. 1868), became widely known as a philanthropist, and particularly for her generous gifts to American army hospitals in the war with Spain in 1898 and for her many contributions to New York University, to which she gave $250,000 for a library in 1895 and $100,000 for a Hall of Fame in 1900.

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