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Jay Gould Biography

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Jay Gould was an American businessman and Railroad tycoon. He was one of the most influential businessman in the late 1800's. Joy Gould relied on underhanded and ruthless tactics to succeed. He could not be trusted, and would sell anyone out in a heartbeat. Yet he was a skilled negotiator and convinced many people to believe him. He used their trust to sell them out and make money for himself. Jay Gould used schemes and malicious tactics to become one of the richest and most successful men in American history.

Jay Gould was born Jason Gould in Roxbury New Jersey, on May 27th, 1836 to John and Mary Gould. There was a history of businessman in his family, as both his grandfather and great grandfather had been successful in the field. He had a great education as a child. He went to school at the Hobart Academy, where at a very early age the principle gave him a job at the local blacksmith. He worked as a bookkeeper for the owner for around a year, before the shopkeeper offered him a huge share of sorts of his store. He proceeded to give this to his dad, and helped him buy out the shopkeeper. Even at a young age he showed the cunning and skill needed to be a successful tycoon. He then proceeded to study surveying and mathematics, and eventually went into business with Zadock Pratt in a tanning company. Pratt eventually retired after being bought out by Gould. In 1863 he married Helen Miller, and they had 6 children together.

During the civil war he dealt in railway stocks in new York city, and in 1863 he became manager of the Rensselaer and Saratoga Railway. He bought and reorganized the Rutland and Washington Railway, and in 1867 he became a director of the very successful Erie Railroad. In 1868 he joined Daniel Drew and Jim Fisk in an attempt to prevent rival Cornelius Vanderbilt from taking control of this railroad company. To do this, Gould used outrageous financial tactics, including paying massive bribes to New York state legislature to allow him to sell fraudulent stocks to the public. Using these undercut tactics, Gould ended up in control of the railroad, and he and Fisk then joined forces with William "Boss" Tweed and Peter Sweeney, from the political group Tammany Hall, to make even more money using the Erie stock. In August 1869, Gould and Fisk started to buy gold in an attempt to "corner the market," hoping that the increase in the price of gold would increase the price of products that the western farmers need, causing an increase of shipping westward, and 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 influence the president and his Secretary General Horace Porter. These purchases of gold led to 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 large profit from this plan, but lost it in the subsequent lawsuits. The gold project established Gould's reputation with the press that he was an all-powerful economic figure who could drive the market up and down whenever he wanted to. He was not well liked by the American public for this, and often found himself being the subject of political cartoons. Also, for the rest of his life, many market analyzers pitted any change that they couldn't understand on Gould.

After Black Friday, Gould was forced to sell off his share of the Erie Railroad company to pay for expenses.



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