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Jason Gould (/ɡld/; May 27, 1836 – December 2, 1892) was an American railroad magnate and financial speculator who is generally identified as one of the robber barons of the Gilded Age. His sharp and often unscrupulous business practices made him one of the wealthiest men of the late nineteenth century. A highly controversial and unpopular figure during his life; Gould is widely regarded as one of the great villains of his era.[2][3][4] He is the originator of five generations (to 2019) of the Gould family of financiers, philanthropists and diplomats.

Jay Gould
Jay Gould - Bain News Service.jpg
Born
Jason Gould

(1836-05-27)May 27, 1836
DiedDecember 2, 1892(1892-12-02) (aged 56)
OccupationFinancier
Spouse(s)
Helen Day Miller
(m. 1863; died 1889)
Children

Early life and educationEdit

Gould was born in Roxbury, New York, to Mary More (1798–1841) and John Burr Gould (1792–1866). His maternal grandfather Alexander T. More was a businessman, and his great-grandfather John More was a Scottish immigrant who founded the town of Moresville, New York. Gould studied at the Hobart Academy in Hobart, New York.[5] As a young boy, he decided that he wanted nothing to do with farming, his father's profession, so his father dropped him off at a nearby school with 50 cents and a sack of clothes.[6]

Early careerEdit

 
Jay Gould (right) in 1855

Gould's school principal was credited with getting him a job as a bookkeeper for a blacksmith.[7] A year later, the blacksmith offered him half interest in the blacksmith shop, which he sold to his father during the early part of 1854. Gould devoted himself to private study, emphasizing surveying and mathematics. In 1854, he surveyed and created maps of the Ulster County, New York, area. In 1856, he published History of Delaware County, and Border Wars of New York, which he had spent several years writing.[8]

In 1856, Gould entered a partnership with Zadock Pratt[7] to create a tanning business in Pennsylvania in an area that was later named Gouldsboro. He eventually bought out Pratt, who retired. In 1856, Gould entered a partnership with Charles Mortimer Leupp, a son-in-law of Gideon Lee and one of the leading leather merchants in the United States, and it was a successful partnership until the Panic of 1857. Leupp lost all his money in that financial crisis, but Gould took advantage of the depreciation in property value and bought up former partnership properties.[7]

The Gouldsboro Tannery became a disputed property after Leupp's death. Leupp's brother-in-law David W. Lee was also a partner in Leupp and Gould, and he took armed control of the tannery. He believed that Gould had cheated the Leupp and Lee families in the collapse of the business. Gould eventually took physical possession, but he was later forced to sell his shares in the company to Lee's brother.[9]

Railroad investingEdit

In 1859, Gould began speculative investing by buying stock in small railways. His father-in-law Daniel S. Miller introduced him to the railroad industry by suggesting that Gould help him save his investment in the Rutland and Washington Railroad in the Panic of 1857. Gould purchased stock for 10 cents on the dollar, which left him in control of the company.[10] He engaged in more speculation on railroad stocks in New York City throughout the Civil War, and he was appointed manager of the Rensselaer and Saratoga Railroad in 1863.

The Erie Railroad encountered financial troubles in the 1850s, despite receiving loans from financiers Cornelius Vanderbilt and Daniel Drew. It entered receivership in 1859 and was reorganized as the Erie Railway. Gould, Drew, and James Fisk engaged in stock manipulations known as the Erie War, and Drew, Fisk, and Vanderbilt lost control of the Erie in the summer of 1868, while Gould became its president.[11]

It was during the same period that Gould and Fisk became involved with Tammany Hall, the Democratic Party political machine that largely ran New York City at the time. They made its boss, William "Marcy" Tweed, a director of the Erie Railroad, and Tweed arranged favorable legislation. Tweed and Gould became the subjects of political cartoons by Thomas Nast in 1869. Gould was the chief bondsman in October 1871 when Tweed was held on $1 million bail. Tweed was eventually convicted of corruption and died in jail.[12]

Black FridayEdit

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 and motivate western farmers to sell. This, in turn, would cause a great amount of shipping 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 influence the president and his Secretary General Horace Porter.[13][14] These speculations culminated in the panic of Black Friday on September 24, 1869, when the premium over face value fell on a gold Double Eagle from 62 percent to 35 percent. Gould made a small profit from this operation by hedging against his own attempted corner as it was about to collapse, but he lost it in 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.[15]

Lord Gordon-GordonEdit

 
Lord Gordon-Gordon

In 1873, Gould attempted to take control of the Erie Railroad by recruiting foreign investments from Lord Gordon-Gordon, supposedly a cousin of the wealthy Campbell clan who was buying land for immigrants. He bribed Gordon-Gordon with a million dollars in stock, but Gordon-Gordon was an impostor and cashed the stock immediately. Gould sued him, and the case went to trial in March 1873. In court, Gordon-Gordon gave the names of the Europeans whom he claimed to represent, and he was granted bail while the references were checked. He immediately fled to Canada, where he convinced authorities that the charges were false.[16][17]

Gould failed to convince Canadian authorities to hand over Gordon-Gordon, so he attempted to kidnap him with the help of his associates and future members of Congress Loren Fletcher, John Gilfillan, and Eugene McLanahan Wilson. The group captured him successfully, but they were stopped and arrested by the North-West Mounted Police before they could return to the US. Canadian authorities put them in prison and refused them bail,[16][17] and this led to an international incident between the United States and Canada. Governor Horace Austin of Minnesota demanded their return when he learned that they had been denied bail, and he put the local militia on full readiness, and thousands of Minnesotans volunteered for an invasion of Canada. After negotiations, the Canadian authorities released them on bail. Gordon-Gordon was eventually ordered to be deported but committed suicide before the order could be carried out.[16][17]

Western railroadsEdit

 
Cartoon depicting Wall Street as "Jay Gould's Private Bowling Alley"
 
Gould's portrait hanging in his office at Lyndhurst which he purchased in 1880

After being forced out of the Erie Railroad, Gould started to build up a system of railroads in the midwest and west. He took control of the Union Pacific in 1873 when its stock was depressed by the Panic of 1873, and he built a viable railroad that depended on shipments from farmers and ranchers. He immersed himself in every operational and financial detail of the Union Pacific system, building an encyclopedic knowledge and acting decisively to shape its destiny. Biographer Maury Klein states that "he revised its financial structure, waged its competitive struggles, captained its political battles, revamped its administration, formulated its rate policies, and promoted the development of resources along its lines."[18][19]

By 1879, Gould gained control of three more important western railroads, including the Missouri Pacific Railroad. He controlled 10,000 miles (16,000 km) of railway, about one-ninth of the rail in the United States at that time, and he had controlling interest in 15 percent of the country's railway tracks by 1882. The railroads were making profits and set their own rates, and his wealth increased dramatically. He withdrew from management of the Union Pacific in 1883 amid political controversy over its debts to the federal government, but he realized a large profit for himself. He obtained a controlling interest in the Western Union telegraph company and in the elevated railways in New York City after 1881. In 1889, he organized the Terminal Railroad Association of St. Louis which acquired a bottleneck in east-west railroad traffic at St. Louis, but the government brought an antitrust suit to eliminate the bottleneck control after Gould died.[20]

Personal lifeEdit

TimelineEdit

Jay Gould timeline
 
Jay Gould appears to the far right of this cartoon by Thomas Nast from Harper's Weekly of February 10, 1872

ReligionEdit

Gould was a member of West Presbyterian Church at 31 West 42nd Street. It later merged with Park Presbyterian to form West-Park Presbyterian.[21]

MarriageEdit

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

DeathEdit

 
The mausoleum of Jay Gould

Gould died of tuberculosis, then referred to as "consumption," on December 2, 1892, and was interred in the Woodlawn Cemetery, The Bronx, New York. His fortune was conservatively estimated for tax purposes at $72 million (= $1.76 billion in 2016, adjusted for inflation), which he willed in its entirety to his family.[5]

At the time of his death, Gould was a benefactor in the reconstruction of the Reformed Church of Roxbury, New York, now known as the Jay Gould Memorial Reformed Church.[28] It is located within the Main Street Historic District and listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1988.[29] The family mausoleum was designed by Francis O'Hara.

DescendantsEdit

Gould married Helen Day Miller (1838–1889) in 1863; they had:

In popular cultureEdit

  • G. J. A. O’Toole's 1979 historical fiction novel The Cosgrove Report suggests that Gould was behind the assassination of Abraham Lincoln (ISBN 978-0802144072)[45][46]

See alsoEdit

NotesEdit

  1. ^ Maury Klein (October 29, 1997). The Life and Legend of Jay Gould. Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 15. ISBN 978-0-8018-5771-3.
  2. ^ Walter R. Borneman (2014). Iron Horses: America's Race to Bring the Railroads West. p. 235. ISBN 9780316371797.
  3. ^ Maury Klein (1997). The Life and Legend of Jay Gould. p. 393. ISBN 9780801857713.
  4. ^ Rennehan, Edward J. (2005). Dark Genius of Wall Street.
  5. ^ a b Alef, Daniel (2010). Jay Gould: Ruthless Railroad Tycoon. Titans of Fortune Publishing. ISBN 9781608043064.
  6. ^ H. W. Brands "Masters of Enterprise"
  7. ^ a b c GOULD'S EVENTFUL LIFE, https://timesmachine.nytimes.com/timesmachine/1892/12/03/104101825.pdf
  8. ^ Gould, Jay (1856). History of Delaware County. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania?: Keeny & Gould.
  9. ^ "David Williamson Lee's Career", New York Times, January 21, 1886.
  10. ^ Klein, Maury (1997). The Life and Legend of Jay Gould. Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 508. ISBN 9780801857713.
  11. ^ Schafer, Mike (2000). More Classic American Railroads. MBI Publishing Company. p. 47. ISBN 076030758X. Retrieved September 22, 2016.
  12. ^ Conway, J. North (2010). The Big Policeman: The Rise and Fall of America's First, Most Ruthless, and Greatest Detective. Globe Pequot Press. p. 99. ISBN 9781599219653.
  13. ^ White 2016, pp. 479–480.
  14. ^ Brands 2012, p. 442.
  15. ^ Smith 2001, p. 490.
  16. ^ a b c Donaldson, William (September 2, 2004). Brewer's Rogues, Villains and Eccentrics. London: Phoenix. pp. 299–300. ISBN 0-7538-1791-8.
  17. ^ a b c Johnson, J.L. "Lord Gordon Gordon". The Manitoba Historical Society. Retrieved August 22, 2008.
  18. ^ Maury Klein, Jay Gould, (1966) p 147
  19. ^ Maury Klein, "In Search of Jay Gould." Business History Review 52#2 (1978): 166-199.
  20. ^ United States v. Terminal R.R. Ass'n.
  21. ^ New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission: "West-Park Presbyterian", nyc.gov; accessed September 25, 2018.
  22. ^ a b "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. Retrieved May 23, 2008. 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.
  23. ^ a b c "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. Retrieved August 6, 2008. Edwin Gould, second son of the late Jay Gould, financier and railroad builder, died suddenly of a heart attack shortly after ...
  24. ^ a b "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. Retrieved June 18, 2007. 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.
  25. ^ a b "Howard Gould dies here at 88... [l]ast surviving son of Jay Gould, rail financier, yachtsman, auto racer". New York Times. September 15, 1959. Retrieved June 21, 2007. 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 residence ...
  26. ^ a b "Duchesse de Talleyrand Is Dead. Youngest daughter of Jay Gould". New York Times. November 30, 1961. Retrieved August 6, 2008. 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.
  27. ^ a b "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. Retrieved April 6, 2008. Frank Jay Gould died today at his apartment at Juanles-Pins on the French Riviera. He was 78 years old
  28. ^ History of the Reformed Church of Roxbury, Delaware County, New York Archived September 23, 2008, at the Wayback Machine, churches.rca.org; accessed May 3, 2014.
  29. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. March 13, 2009.
  30. ^ "Kingdon Gould, 58, Long a Financier. Grandson of Founder of Family Fortune Dies. Once on Rail Boards. Officer In 1918". New York Times. November 8, 1945. Retrieved June 19, 2008.
  31. ^ "Jay Gould Is Dead. Court Tennis Star. Grandson of the Financier Had Held Championship for Quarter of Century". Retrieved July 21, 2007.
  32. ^ "Lady Decies Dies at 38 in London. Former Helen Vivien Gould Was Principal in Brilliant International Wedding of 1911. Was Noted As Hostess. Her Entertaining Was a Feature of British Capital. Husband Is Distinguished Irish Peer". New York Times. February 3, 1931. Retrieved November 26, 2007.
  33. ^ "He Is George Jay Gould, Jr". New York Times. May 15, 1896. Retrieved August 22, 2008.
  34. ^ "Lady MacNeal Dies. Was Edith Gould. Granddaughter of Financier, 36, Succumbs at Estate in East Hampton. Wife of British Knight. Wrote Autobiography Telling of Family Life ..." New York Times. September 12, 1937. Retrieved August 22, 2008.
  35. ^ "Gloria Gould Barker Is Drowned In Swim Pool at Arizona Home. Mrs. W.M. Barker Drowns In A Pool. Victim of Accident". New York Times. Associated Press. August 16, 1943. Retrieved June 7, 2008.
  36. ^ Gould; Time; July 31, 1933
  37. ^ New York Times; October 15, 1951, Monday; Mrs. Edwin Gould Dies in Hospital; Widow of Financier's Son Was Daughter of Surgeon Who Attended President Grant.
  38. ^ Sublimed Gould; Time; July 24, 1933
  39. ^ New York Times; February 26, 1917, Monday; Edwin Gould, Jr., Killed on Hunt with Own Gun; Was Clubbing 'Coon Caught in Trap When Trigger Caught, Firing the Weapon. Shot Severed Artery.
  40. ^ New York Times; January 14, 1945
  41. ^ Snow, Alice Northrop (1943). The Story of Helen Gould. F. H. Revell.
  42. ^ "Son of Ann Gould succumbs in Paris". New York Times. February 8, 1946. Marquis De Castellane Held French Embassy Posts in London During 1940. Paris, Feb. 7, 1946. The death of Marquis de Castellane, son of the late Count Boni de Castellane and the former Anna Gould of New York, who eventually became Duchess de Talleyrand-Périgord, was announced today.
  43. ^ "Talleyrand Motel". Time magazine. June 3, 1929. Retrieved July 21, 2007.
  44. ^ "Anna Gould's Son, Self-Wounded, Dies. Howard De Talleyrand, Prince De Sagan, 19, Succumbs In Paris After 11 Days. Parent's At His Bedside". New York Times. May 29, 1929. Retrieved July 21, 2007.
  45. ^ "Inside the Lincoln Conspiracy with G.J.A. O'Toole". The Tin Whistle. September 24, 2014. Retrieved April 29, 2018.
  46. ^ "The Cosgrove Report". Grove Atlantic. February 10, 2009. Retrieved April 26, 2018.

BibliographyEdit

Further readingEdit

Newspaper Articles

  • Death of Jay Gould in the Brooklyn Eagle
  • "George Gould marries". New York Times. September 15, 1886.
  • "Howard Gould marries". New York Times. October 13, 1898.
  • "Howard Gould dies here at 88; last surviving son of Jay Gould, rail financier — yachtsman, auto racer". New York Times. September 15, 1959.

Books

External linksEdit