Gould, Jay


Gould, Jay

biographical name

(born May 27, 1836, Roxbury, N.Y., U.S.—died Dec. 2, 1892, New York, N.Y.) U.S. railroad executive, speculator, and robber baron. Educated in local schools, he worked as a surveyor and then operated a tannery. By 1859 he was speculating in the stocks of small railways. In 1867 he became a director of the Erie Railroad; in the following year he joined with Daniel Drew and James Fisk to prevent Cornelius Vanderbilt from buying control of the company. To this end he engaged in outrageous financial manipulations, including the issue of fraudulent stock and the payment of lavish bribes to New York state legislators to legalize the stock's sale. He and Fisk then joined forces with William Magear Tweed to profit from further stock manipulations. In 1869 they attempted to corner the gold market, causing the Black Friday panic. In 1872 public outcry forced Gould to cede control of the Erie Railroad. With a fortune of $25 million, he began buying large blocks of stock in Union Pacific Railroad Company and acquired control of that company by 1874. By 1881 he owned 15% of all U.S. rail mileage. Having made large profits by manipulating the company's stock, he pulled out of the company in 1882 and began building a new rail system southwest of St. Louis that by 1890 included half the region's rail mileage. In 1881 he gained control of Western Union Corp., and he owned the New York World newspaper from 1879 to 1883. He remained ruthless, unscrupulous, and friendless to the end.

Variants of GOULD, JAY

Gould, Jay orig. Jason Gould

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
For the full entry on Gould, Jay, visit Britannica.com.

Seen & Heard

What made you look up Gould, Jay? Please tell us what you were reading, watching or discussing that led you here.