Jay Gould

Jay Gould, 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 RR. Aided by James Fisk and Daniel Drew, he defeated Cornelius Vanderbilt for control of this road and manipulated its stocks in his own interest and that of his group, including "Boss" Tweed. The Gould-Fisk scheme to corner gold in 1869 caused the Black Friday 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 Gould.

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).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

Jay Gould, His Business Career, 1867-1892
Julius Grodinsky.
University of Pennsylvania Press, 1957
Monopolies in America: Empire Builders and Their Enemies, from Jay Gould to Bill Gates
Charles R. Geisst.
Oxford University Press, 2000
Boss Tweed: The Story of a Grim Generation
Denis Tilden Lynch.
Boni and Liveright, 1927
Librarian’s tip: Chap. VIII "Jay Gould Penniless"
The House of Morgan: A Social Biography of the Masters of Money
Lewis Corey.
G. Howard Watt, 1930
Librarian’s tip: Chap. X "Morgan, Gould, Fisk"
Jubilee Jim: The Life of Colonel James Fisk, Jr.
Robert H. Fuller.
The Macmillan Company, 1928
Librarian’s tip: Chap. VII "Gould and the Erie"
History of the Labor Movement in the United States
Philip S. Foner.
International Publishers, vol.2, 1955
Librarian’s tip: "The Gould Strike of 1885" begins on p. 50
The Robber Barons: The Great American Capitalists, 1861- 1901
Matthew Josephson.
Harcourt, Brace & World, 1962
Librarian’s tip: Information on Jay Gould begins on p. 121
Tropes and Parodies of Capitalist Biography: Carnegie's "Gospel of Wealth" vs. Herrick's 'Memoirs.'
Phillips, Wm. M.
Mosaic (Winnipeg), Vol. 32, No. 1, March 1999
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