Fisk, James,1834–72, American financial speculator, b. Pownal, Vt. In his youth he worked for a circus and as a wagon peddler of merchandise. During the Civil War he became wealthy purchasing cotton in occupied areas of the South for Northern firms and selling Confederate bonds in England. In 1866 he established a brokerage house in New York City with the aid of Daniel Drew, whom he had formerly served as agent. He audaciously helped Drew and Jay Gould conduct the famous struggle with Cornelius Vanderbilt for control of the Erie RR. Afterward he and Gould unscrupulously manipulated Erie stock so as to gain millions for themselves but wreck the road. They also engineered the attempt to corner the gold market in 1869, causing the famous Black FridayBlack Friday,
Sept. 24, 1869, in U.S. history, day of financial panic. In 1869 a small group of American financial speculators, including Jay Gould and James Fisk, sought the support of federal officials of the Grant administration in a drive to corner the gold market.
..... Click the link for more information. scandal. Other raids by Fisk and his associates upset markets and aroused public indignation. Fisk controlled the Fall River and Bristol steamboat lines on Long Island Sound, operated ferries on the Hudson, and bought an opera house in New York City, producing drama and light opera there. He was killed by Edward S. Stokes, a former business associate who was a rival for the attentions of the well-known actress Josie Mansfield.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved. www.cc.columbia.edu/cu/cup/
Fisk, James(1835–72) capitalist; born in Bennington, Vt. A flamboyant peddler and stock dealer, in 1869 he opened Fisk & Belden, a brokerage house, with the financial support of Daniel Drew. In the so-called "Erie War" between Drew and Cornelius Vanderbilt, Fisk stymied Vanderbilt's attempt to purchase Erie Railroad Company stock and with Jay Gould took over and looted the company. Fisk and Gould's attempt to corner the gold market resulted in the Black Friday panic of September 24, 1869. In the Congressional investigation that ensued, Fisk gained minor immortality with two oft-quoted remarks; he said that the money he had made had "gone where the woodbine twineth" (i.e. "up the spout," vanished) and that "nothing is lost except honor." Known as the "Barnum of Wall Street" for his fraudulent business practices and notorious for his sybaritic lifestyle, he died after being shot by Edward Stokes during a dispute over business matters and a mistress.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.