Cooke, Jay,1821–1905, American financier, b. Sandusky, Ohio. He founded Jay Cooke & Company, which marketed the huge Civil War loans of the federal government. He later turned to railroad bonds and in 1870 undertook to raise $100 million for the Northern Pacific and financed construction to Bismarck, N.Dak. The burden proved to be too great and continuing the financing became impossible. In 1873, Cooke's New York branch closed its doors and helped to precipitate the Panic of 1873.
See biographies by E. P. Oberholtzer (1907, repr. 1968) and H. M. Larson (1936, repr. 1968); M. Minnigerode, Certain Rich Men (1927, repr. 1970).