Jay Gould

From Wikiquote
Jump to: navigation, search
Corporations are going, we are told, to destroy the country. But what would this country be but for corporations?

Jason "Jay" Gould (May 27, 1836December 2, 1892) was an American financier and railroad developer.


  • The ultimate result will be to annihilate the Indians & open up the Big Horn & Black Hills to development & settlement & in this way greatly benefit us.
    • Letter to Silas H. H. Clark (1876) regarding the Great Sioux War, quoted in Union Pacific: 1862-1893 by Maury Klein
  • I sometimes think I should like to give up business entirely. The care and worriment attending large business interests are very great, but besides that fact the manner in which motives are impugned and characters assailed is most unpleasant
    • As quoted in the Commercial and Financial Chronicle (25 March 1882)

Jay Gould : A Character Sketch (1893)[edit]

Quotes from "Jay Gould : A Character Sketch" by William T. Stead, in The Review of Reviews (February 1893)
  • It was the custom when men received nominations to come to me for contributions, and I made them and considered them good paying investments for the company. In a Republican district I was a strong Republican; in a Democratic district I was Democratic, and in doubtful districts I was doubtful. In politics I was an Erie Railroad man all the time.
  • I judge property myself by its net earning power; that is the only rule I have been able to get.… This whole island [Manhattan] was once bought for a few strings of beads. But now you will find this property valued by its earning power, by its rent power, and that is the way to value a railroad or telegraph.
    • Testimony to the New York Senate Committee on Labor and Education
  • My idea is, that if capital and labor are left alone they will mutually regulate each other. People who think they can regulate all mankind and get wrong ideas which they believe to be panaceas for every ill cause much trouble to both employers and employees by their interference.
    • Testimony to the New York Senate Committee on Labor and Education"
  • Corporations are going, we are told, to destroy the country. But what would this country be but for corporations? Who have developed it? Corporations. Who transact the most marvelous business the world has ever seen? Corporations.
    • Interview with the New York Herald
  • No man can control Wall Street. Wall Street is like the ocean. No man can govern it. It is too vast. Wall Street is full of eddies and currents. The thing to do is to watch them, to exercise a little common sense, and … to come out on top.
    • Interview with the New York Herald
  • I never notice what is said about me. I am credited with things I have never done, and abused for them. It would be idle to attempt to contradict newspaper talk and street rumors.
  • I have the disadvantage of not being sociable. Wall Street men are fond of company and sport. A man makes one hundred thousand dollars there and immediately buys a yacht, begins to race fast horses, and becomes a sport generally. My tastes lie in a different direction. When business hours are over I go home and spend the remainder of the day with my wife, my children, and books of my library. Every man has natural inclinations of his own. Mine are domestic. They are not calculated to make me particularly popular in Wall Street, and I cannot help that.
    • Also quoted in The Life and Legend of Jay Gould (1986) by Maury Klein


  • I can hire one half of the working class to kill the other half.
    • Frequently attributed, often in the context of strikebreaking activities during the Great Southwest Railroad Strike of 1886. See for example Philip Sheldon Foner, History of the Labor Movement in the United States, Volume 2‎ - Page 50 (1975). A contemporary source has not been identified. Varying forms of the quotation circulated in the labor press as early as 1893, with or without the attribution to Gould.

Quotes about Gould[edit]

Alphabetized by author
  • I have always found, even to the most trivial detail, that Mr. Gould lived up to the whole nature of his obligations. Of course he was always careful and reticent about what he promised, but that promise was invariably fulfilled.
    • E. Ellery Anderson, a member of the Pacific Railway Commission formed to investigate Gould's management of the Union Pacific Railroad, quoted in Stead, "Jay Gould: A Character Sketch"
  • He was never a stock gambler. He had no more to do with Black Friday than you had.
    • Alonzo B. Cornell, quoted in Stead, "Jay Gould: A Character Sketch"
  • Gould, with his seventy millions, was one of the colossal failures of our time. He was a purely selfish man. His greed consumed his charity. He was like death and hell - gathering in all, giving back nothing. To build up an immense fortune for one's self by fraud is a disgrace to the age, a mockery to virtue, a menace to public welfare. The love of money was the root of all evil in him. The motive that softens the footsteps of the burglar, that nerves the arm of the highwayman, was the same that prompted Gould to break his neighbor up to build himself up.
    • Rev. Inglehart, pastor of the Park Avenue Methodist Episcopal Church (4 December 1892), quoted in Stead, "Jay Gould: A Character Sketch"
  • I do not believe that since man was in the habit of living on this planet anyone has ever lived possessed of the impudence of Jay Gould.
  • One of the most sinister figures that ever flitted, bat-like, across the vision of the American people
    • Joseph Pulitzer, quoted in The Life and Legend of Jay Gould by Maury Klein
  • All his gold speculations, his stock speculations—I speak of those which were purely speculative as brokers use the term—generally resulted in losses.… He did not make money … out of those crises of 1869, 1873 and the Erie manipulations of 1868, which have been most strongly condemned.
    • Thomas G. Shearman, Gould's legal counsel during the Erie Railroad phase of his career, quoted in Stead, "Jay Gould: A Character Sketch"
  • One of the most important factors in his execution of a deal was concealing from others even the intimation of what he was going to do. In these accomplishments he never professed a regard for truthfulness. He was quite indifferent to the moral question of misleading people.
    • Thomas G. Shearman, quoted in Stead, "Jay Gould: A Character Sketch"
  • My name has been associated with that of Mr. Jay Gould and others in connection with the speculation, and gross injustice has been done me thereby.… You have my authority for stating that I consider Mr. Jay Gould a damned villain.
    • Cornelius Vanderbilt, letter to the Chicago Daily Tribune (1 December 1872), regarding speculation in the Chicago and North Western railroad

External links[edit]

Wikipedia has an article about:
Wikisource has original works written by or about: