Gould, Jay

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Gould, Jay,

1836–92, American speculator, b. Delaware co., N.Y. A country-store clerk and surveyor's assistant, he rose to control half the railroad mileage in the Southwest, New York City's elevated railroads, and the Western Union Telegraph Company. With savings of $5,000 at 21 he became a speculator, particularly in small railroads. After some years he became a director of the Erie RRErie Railroad,
rail transportation line designed to connect the mouth of the Hudson River with the Great Lakes region. The New York and Erie RR Company was enfranchised and incorporated in 1832, and construction was begun in 1835 near Deposit, N.Y.
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. Aided by James FiskFisk, 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
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 and Daniel DrewDrew, Daniel,
1797–1879, American railroad speculator, b. Carmel, N.Y. He became a cattle dealer in early life and by 1834 was successful enough to engage in the steamboat business on the Hudson, which he developed rapidly. In 1844, Drew entered Wall St.
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, he defeated Cornelius VanderbiltVanderbilt, Cornelius,
1794–1877, American railroad magnate, b. Staten Island, N.Y. As a boy he ferried freight and passengers from Staten Island to Manhattan, and he soon gained control of most of the ferry lines and other short lines in the vicinity of New York City.
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 for control of this road and manipulated its stocks in his own interest and that of his group, including "Boss" TweedTweed, William Marcy,
1823–78, American politician and Tammany leader, b. New York City. A bookkeeper, he became (1848) a volunteer fireman and as a result acquired influence in his ward. He was an alderman (1852–53) and sat (1853–55) in Congress.
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. The Gould-Fisk scheme to corner gold in 1869 caused the 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.
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 panic. Public protest forced the Gould group out of the Erie, ending with Gould's expulsion in 1872. He then bought into the Union Pacific and other western roads. He gained control of four lines that made up the Gould system. For years his name was a symbol of autocratic business practice, and he was widely disliked. After his death his estate and interests were managed by his son, George Jay GouldGould, George Jay
, 1864–1923, U.S. railroad owner, b. New York City; son of Jay Gould. He was associated with his father, inherited all the holdings on Jay Gould's death, and adopted daring policies. To compete with E. H. Harriman he bought the Denver & Rio Grande RR.
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See biographies by M. Klein (1986) and E. J. Renahan, Jr. (2005); C. F. and H. Adams, Chapters of Erie (1871); R. O'Connor, Gould's Millions (1962); E. P. Hoyt, Jr., Goulds (1969).

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Gould, (Jason) Jay

(1836–92) financier; born in Roxbury, N.Y. A surveyor by training, he wrote History of Delaware County, and Border Wars of New York (1856). He became a tanner and leather dealer in New York (1857–60) and began speculating in small railways on the stock market. He, along with associates James Fisk and Daniel Drew, fought and beat Cornelius Vanderbilt for control of the Erie Railroad (1867–68). Having used bribery to gain control, Gould and his partners did not hesitate to loot the railroad's treasury by stock manipulation. His attempt to corner the gold market caused the Black Friday panic (September 24, 1869). Ejected from his Erie Railroad post in 1872, he gained control of several western railroads and extracted a $10 million profit by threatening the Union Pacific. He also owned the New York World (1879–83) and most of New York City's elevated railroads, and controlled Western Union Telegraph Company. The epitome of the "robber baron," he died "unlamented" but worth over $100 million.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.