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Jay Cooke was born August 10, 1821, in Sandusky, Ohio. Organizing Jay Cooke & Company just prior to the outbreak of the Civil War, he successfully sold the war loans that financed the Union effort.
Following the war, Cooke was a Radical Republican and supported the candidacy of Salmon P. Chase, then the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, for the Republican nomination in the election of 1868. The nomination eventually went to Ulysses S. Grant.
Cooke became interested in the Northern Pacific Railway and poured much of his wealth into the line. His financial support, which began in 1870, overextended his firm and the approach of the Panic of 1873 forced the Cooke firm to suspend operation and Cooke himself to declare bankruptcy.
By 1880, Cooke had met his obligations and a successful investment in silver made him wealthy again. He died in 1905.
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The Money Men: Capitalism, Democracy, and the Hundred Years' War Over the American Dollar by H.W. Brands.
An "insightful" (Publishers Weekly) history of the development of American capitalism and the men who made it great. Most Americans are familiar with ...