Collection inventory

Special Collections home page

Jay Gould Letters

An inventory of his letters at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: KM
Date: Oct 1987

Biographical History

Jay Gould (1826-1892) was an American financier and railroad entrepreneur.

Jason Gould was born May 27, 1836 in Roxbury, New York to Mary (Moore) and John Burr Gould. As a young man, Gould helped prepare maps of several counties in New York, Ohio and Michigan. In 1856, he wrote History of Delaware County, and Border Wars of New York, a work which explored the local history of the region. Around 1857, Gould opened a tannery in northern Pennsylvania. He soon began speculating in small railways. Gould and James Fisk joined the directorate of the Erie Railroad in 1867. Shortly after, the partners strategically named Peter Sweeney and William (Boss) Tweed directors. The two directors, particularly Tweed, were able to use their leverage in politics to arrange favorable legislation for the railroad. Gould was eventually forced out of the Erie Railroad corporation, but merely shifted his speculative interests to other business such as the Union Pacific and Missouri Pacific railroad, Western Union Telegraph Company, and the New York World.

Gould was married to Helen Day Miller with whom he had 6 children, George Jay, Edwin, Helen, Howard, Anna , and Frank Jay Gould. He died December 2, 1892 of tuberculosis at the age of 57.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Jay Gould Letters consist of six items of outgoing business correspondence, most of which relates to his railroad interests. A letter to Governor John T. Hoffman rescinds Gould's recommendations for approval of a bill amending an Act which would enable towns and municipalities to bond in favor of railroad corporations:

I have since learned that the bill in question is designed to remedy defects in the existing law, to meet a case (I refer to the Newburgh case) now before the Courts, and in which also I have an adverse interest; and therefore I now the more willingly address you to say that I am gratified to learn that you have well-grounded objections to the signing of the bill, and that I withdraw the recommendation contained in my letter to you above alluded to; and would be pleased to learn that your signature to the bill has been withheld.

Arrangement of the Collection

The collection contains one series, Correspondence, which is arranged alphabetically by recipient.


Access Restrictions:

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions:

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

Subject Headings


Gould, Jay, 1836-1892.
Hoffman, John Thompson, 1828-1888.


Capitalists and financiers -- United States.
Entrepreneurs -- United States.
Municipal bonds -- Law and legislation.
Railroads -- Political aspects -- New York (State)

Genres and Forms

Letters (correspondence)


Capitalists and financiers.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Jay Gould Letters
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Table of Contents