Jay Gould

Jay Gould

Infobox Person
name = Jay Gould

image_size =
caption =
birth_date = birth date|1836|5|27
birth_place = Roxbury, New York
death_date = death date and age|1892|12|2|1836|5|27
death_place = Manhattan, New York
occupation = Financier
spouse = Helen Day Miller (1838-1889)
parents = John Burr Gould (1792-1866)
Mary More Gould (1798-1841)
children = George Jay Gould I
Edwin Gould I
Helen Gould
Anna Gould
Frank Jay Gould

Jason "Jay" Gould (May 27, 1836 – December 2, 1892) was an American financier who became a leading American railroad developer and speculator. Long vilified as a stereotypical "robber baron", modern historians have discounted various myths about him and more positively evaluated his career.

Birth and early career

Jason Gould was born in Roxbury, New York, the son of John Burr Gould (1792-1866) and Mary Moore Gould (1798-1841). Gould's father was of British colonial ancestry, and his mother of Scottish ancestry. He studied at the Hobart Academy, but left at age 16 to work for his father in the hardware business. He continued to devote himself to private study, emphasizing surveying and mathematics. Gould later went to work in the lumber and tanning business in western New York and then became involved with banking in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania. In 1856, he published the "History of Delaware County". By 1857 he was in control of the Rutland and Washington Railroad. He sold the railroad and then moved to Manhattan. [cite news |first= |last= |authorlink= |coauthors= |title=The Goulds Are Going |url=http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,881484,00.html |quote=Some 90 years ago, a man-child was born into the family of a New York state dairy farmer and christened Jason. As that boy grew, according to popular tales, he acquired an education by hard work, invented a mouse-trap and performed sundry undistinguished feats. "It was in the year 1857 that this same person came into the business world with his first name shortened to Jay, and in possession of the Rutland & Washington R. R. He soon parted with this property at a profit and, in 1860, went down to Manhattan. |work=Time (magazine) |date=March 23, 1925 |accessdate=2008-08-06 ]


He married Helen Day Miller (1838-1889) in 1863 and had six children:
* George Jay Gould I (1864–1923), married Edith M. Kingdon (1864–1921) [cite news |first= |last= |authorlink= |coauthors= |title=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. |url=http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F00911FC3B5516738DDDAE0994DD405B838EF1D3 |quote=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. |publisher=New York Times |date=May 17, 1923 |accessdate=2008-05-23 ]
* Edwin Gould I (1866–1933), married Sarah Cantine Shradycite news |first= |last= |authorlink= |coauthors= |title=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. |url=http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F40B14FD385C16738DDDAA0994DF405B838FF1D3 |quote=Edwin Gould, second son of the late Jay Gould, financier and railroad builder, died suddenly of a heart attack shortly after ... |work=New York Times |date=July 13, 1933 |accessdate=2008-08-06 ]
* Helen Gould (1868–1938), married Finlay Johnson Shepard (1867–1942) [cite news |first= |last= |authorlink= |coauthors= |title=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.|url=http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F60F12FE3F5F1B7A93C3AB1789D95F4C8385F9 |quote=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. |publisher=New York Times |date=December 21, 1938, Wednesday|accessdate=2007-06-18 ]
* Howard Gould (1871–1959), married Viola Katherine Clemmons on October 12, 1898; and later married actress Grete Mosheim in 1937 [cite news |first= |last= |authorlink= |coauthors= |title=Howard Gould dies here at 88. last surviving son of Jay Gould, rail financier, yachtsman, auto racer. |url=http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F10E16FF3F551B7B93C7A81782D85F4D8585F9 |quote=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 res idence ... |publisher=New York Times |date=September 15, 1959 |accessdate=2007-06-21 ]
* Anna Gould (1875–1961), married Paul Ernest Boniface, Comte de Castellane (1867-1932); and after a divorce married Helie de Talleyrand-Perigord, 5th duc de Talleyrand, 5th duc de Dino, 4th Herzog von Sagan, and Prince de Sagan (1858–1937) [cite news |first= |last= |authorlink= |coauthors= |title=Duchesse de Talleyrand Is Dead. Youngest daughter of Jay Gould |url=http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=FB0A14F6355912738DDDA90B94D9415B818AF1D3 |quote=The Duchesse de Talleyrand-Perigord, daughter of the late Jay Gould, American railroad financier, died today in Paris where she passed most of her life. |work=New York Times |date=November 30, 1961 |accessdate=2008-08-06 ]
* Frank Jay Gould (1877–1956), married Helen Kelley; then Edith Kelly; and then Florence La Caze (1895–1983) [cite news |first= |last= |authorlink= |coauthors= |title=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. |url=http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F50F16F93F5F157A93C3A9178FD85F428585F9&scp=1&sq=Frank+Jay+Gould&st=p |quote=Frank Jay Gould died today at his apartment at Juanles-Pins on the French Riviera. He was 78 years old. |publisher=Associated Press in New York Times |date=April 1, 1956 |accessdate=2008-04-06 ]

The Tweed Ring

It was during the same period that Gould and James Fisk became involved with Tammany Hall. They made Boss Tweed a director of the Erie Railroad, and Tweed, in return, arranged favorable legislation for them. Tweed and Gould became the subjects of political cartoons by Thomas Nast in 1869. In October 1871, when Tweed was held on $8 million bail, Gould was the chief bondsman.

Black Friday

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 such that western farmers would sell, causing a great amount of shipping of bread stuffs 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 try to influence the president and his Secretary General Horace Porter. These speculations in gold culminated in the panic of Black Friday, on September 24, 1869, when the premium over face value on a gold Double Eagle fell from 62% to 35%. Gould made a nominal profit from this operation, but lost it in the 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. For the rest of his life, newspaper writers would attribute to Gould almost any market development they could not explain otherwise.Fact|date=July 2008

Lord Gordon-Gordon

In 1873 Gould attempted to take control of the Erie Railroad by getting foreign investments from one Lord Gordon-Gordon, a cousin of the Campbells looking to buy land for immigrants, Gould bribed Gordon-Gordon with $1 Million in stock. However, Gordon-Gordon turned out to be a fraud, cashing the stock immediately. Gould sued Gordon-Gordon, with Gordon-Gordon put on trial in March 1873. Gordon-Gordon gave the names of his European personages in court, whom he claimed to represent, and was granted bail while the references were checked. Gordon-Gordon took this opportunity to flee to Canada, where he convinced authorities that the allegations brought against him were false.cite book|last=Donaldson|first=William|authorlink=William Donaldson|title=Brewer's Rogues, Villains and Eccentrics|publisher=Phoenix|date=2004-09-02|location=London|pages=299-300|isbn=0-75381-791-8] cite web |last=Johnson |first=J. L. |url=http://www.mhs.mb.ca/docs/transactions/3/lordgordongordon.shtml |title=Lord Gordon Gordon |publisher=The Manitoba Historical Society |accessdate=2008-08-22]

After failing to convince or force Canadian authorities to hand over Gordon-Gordon, Gould and his associates, which included two future Governors of Minnesota and three future Members of Congress, attempted to kidnap him. The group was successful, but were stopped and arrested by the Northwest Mounted Police before they could return to the United States. The kidnappers were put in prison and refused bail. This led to an international incident between the United States and Canada. Upon learning that the kidnappers were not given bail, Governor Horace Austin of Minnesota demanded their return and put the local militia on a state of full readiness. Thousands of Minnesotans volunteered for a full military invasion of Canada. However, after negotiations, the Canadian authorities released the kidnappers on bail.

The whole incident resulted in Gould losing any possibility of taking control of Erie Railroad

Late career

After being forced out of the Erie Railroad, Gould started, in 1879, to build up a system of railroads in the Midwest by gaining control of four western railroads, including the Union Pacific and the Missouri Pacific Railroad. In 1880, he was in control of 10,000 miles (16,000 km) of railway, about one-ninth of the length of rail in the United States at that time, and, by 1882, he had controlling interest in 15% of the country's tracks. Gould withdrew from management of the UP in 1883 amidst political controversy over its debts to the federal government, realizing a large profit for himself.

Gould also obtained a controlling interest in the Western Union telegraph company, and, after 1881, in the elevated railways in New York City. Ultimately, he was connected with many of the largest railway financial operations in the United States from 1868-1888. During the Great Southwest Railroad Strike of 1886 he hired strikebreakers; according to labor unionists, he said at the time, "I can hire one half of the working class to kill the other half."Fact|date=August 2008


Gould died of tuberculosis on December 2, 1892 and was interred in the Woodlawn Cemetery in The Bronx, New York. His fortune was conservatively estimated to be $72 million for tax purposes. Although a donor to charity from the 1870s onward, he willed all of his fortune to his family. At the time of his death, Gould was a benefactor in the reconstruction of the Reformed Church of Roxbury, now the Jay Gould Memorial Reformed Church. [http://www.churches.rca.org/gouldchurch/history.htm] The family mausoleum was designed by Francis O'Hara (1830-1900) of Ireland.


In his lifetime and for a century after, Gould had a firm reputation as the most unscrupulous of the 19th century American businessmen known as robber barons. Many times he allowed his rivals to believe that he was beaten, then sprang some legal or contractual loophole on them that completely reversed the situation and gave him the advantage. He had no scruples about using stock manipulation and insider trading (which were then legal but frowned upon) to build capital and to execute or prevent hostile takeovers. As a result, many contemporary businessmen did not trust Gould and often expressed contempt for his approach to business. Even so, John D. Rockefeller named him as the most skilled businessman he ever encountered.

The New York City press published many rumors about Gould that biographers passed on as fact. For example, they alleged that Gould's dealings in the tanning business drove his partner Charles Leupp to suicide. In fact, Leupp had episodes of mania and depression that psychiatrists would now recognize as indications of bipolar disorder, and his family knew that this, not his business dealings, caused his death. These biographers portrayed Gould as a parasite who extracted money from businesses and took no interest in improving them. He was often suspected of being Jewish due to his name and business acumen, and was depicted in anti-semitic caricatures, even though he was born a Presbyterian and married an Episcopalian.

More recent biographers, including Maury Klein and Edward Renehan, have reexamined Gould's career with more attention to primary sources. They have concluded that fiction often overwhelmed fact in previous accounts, and that despite his methods, Gould's objectives were usually constructive.



*1836 Birth of Jay Gould as Jason Gould
*1841 Death of Mary Moore Gould, mother
*1850 with Jay Gould in Roxbury, New York
*1856 Publication of "History of Delaware County"
*1863 Marriage to Helen Day Miller (1838-1889)
*1864 Birth of George Jay Gould I, his son
*1866 Death of John Burr Gould, his father
*1866 Birth of Edwin Gould, his son
*1868 Birth of Helen Gould, his daughter
*1869 Black Friday
*1870 in first Manhattan home
*1870 in second Manhattan home
*1871 Birth of Howard Gould, his son
*1875 Birth of Anna Gould, his daughter
*1877 Birth of Frank Gould, his son
*1880 Purchase of Lyndehurst from the widow of George Merritt, shortening name to Lyndhurst
*1880 with Jay Gould in Greenburgh, New York
*1889 Death of Helen Day Miller, his wife

ee also

* List of personalities associated with Wall Street
* Lord Gordon-Gordon, who swindled $1million from Gould.
* Lyndhurst, his country estate on the Hudson River
* Paragould

Further reading

*cite book |title=The Dark Genius Of Wall Street: The Misunderstood Life of Jay Gould, King of the Robber Barons |last=Renehan |first=Edward J. |authorlink= |coauthors= |year=2005 |publisher=BasicBooks |location=New York |isbn=0465068855 |pages=
*cite book |title=The Tycoons: How Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller, Jay Gould, and J.P. Morgan Invented the American Supereconomy |last=Morris |first=Charles R. |authorlink= |coauthors= |year=2005 |publisher=Holt |location=New York |isbn=0805075992 |pages=
*cite news |first= |last= |authorlink= |coauthors= |title=George Gould marries |url= |work=New York Times |publisher= |date=1886-09-15 |accessdate=
*cite news |first= |last= |authorlink= |coauthors= |title=Howard Gould marries |url= |work=New York Times |publisher= |date=1898-10-13 |accessdate=
*cite news |first= |last= |authorlink= |coauthors= |title=Howard Gould dies here at 88; last surviving son of Jay Gould, rail financier — yachtsman, auto racer |url= |work=New York Times |publisher= |date=1959-09-15 |accessdate=

External links

* [http://www.explorepahistory.com/odocument.php?docId=198 Obituary by the Iowa City Daily Citizen]
* [http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GSln=gould&GSfn=jay&GSbyrel=all&GSdyrel=all&GSob=n&GRid=408&pt=Jay%20Gould& Findagrave: Jay Gould]
* [http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/S?pp/ils:@FILREQ(@field(SUBJ+@od1(Portrait+photographs--1860-1900+))+@FIELD(COLLID+ggbain)) Photo from the Library of Congress's George Grantham Bain Collection] rem
* [http://www.dcnyhistory.org/goulds.html History of Delaware County and Border Wars of New York]

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