Field, Cyrus W.

Field, Cyrus W. (West)

(1819–92) businessman, financier; born in Stockbridge, Mass. (brother of David Dudley Field and Stephen Johnson Field). By 1854 he had become wealthy from his paper manufacturing company and he retired to concentrate on promoting the first telegraph cable across the Atlantic. He organized the New York, Newfoundland, and London Telegraph Company in 1854, and the Atlantic Telegraph Company in 1856. After four attempts, success was signaled by Queen Victoria's telegraph to President James Buchanan (1858), but the cable broke within weeks. Criticized by many, and personally in debt, Field raised money for additional attempts that were made after the Civil War and finally resulted in success in 1866. He then spent many years promoting the laying of submarine cables elsewhere in the world. Having bought control of the New York Elevated Railway Company in 1877, he served as its president for three years and helped to bring rapid-transit to New York City. In his later years he suffered severe financial losses and he died practically impoverished.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.