Fisk, James

Fisk, James
born April 1, 1834, Bennington, Vt., U.S.
died Jan. 7, 1872, New York, N.Y.

U.S. financier.

He worked his way up from circus hand to stockbroker and corporate official. He joined Daniel Drew and Jay Gould against Cornelius Vanderbilt in the "Erie War," in which the three tried to maintain control of the Erie Railroad Co. by issuing fraudulent stock. They also attempted to corner the gold market by inflating the price, a venture that led to the panic of 1869. Known as "the Barnum of Wall Street," Fisk produced theatrical shows and dallied with showgirls; he was fatally shot by an associate at age 37 after quarreling over business matters and a mistress.

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▪ American financier
born April 1, 1834, Bennington, Vt., U.S.
died Jan. 7, 1872, New York, N.Y.
 flamboyant American financier, known as the “Barnum of Wall Street,” who joined Jay Gould (Gould, Jay) in securities manipulations and railroad raiding.

      Fisk worked successively as a circus hand, waiter, peddler, dry-goods salesman, stockbroker, and corporate official. In 1866 he formed Fisk and Belden, a brokerage firm, with the support of Daniel Drew (Drew, Daniel). The following year Fisk joined Drew and Gould in protecting their control of the Erie Railroad (Erie Railroad Company) from Cornelius Vanderbilt by issuing fraudulent stock. As vice president and comptroller, Fisk used corporate funds to corrupt public officials, produce Broadway shows, and support Broadway beauties, especially the well-known Josie Mansfield, to such an extent that he was also called “The Prince of the Erie.”

      With Drew's help, Fisk aided Gould in an attempt to corner the gold market by inflating the price, a venture that brought them vast sums but led to the panic of “ Black Friday,” Sept. 24, 1869. Because Gould secretly sold much of his gold before prices fell, Fisk lost a considerable part of his investment. The repercussions of their actions were disastrous for the nation's business and were felt even in Europe. On Jan. 6, 1872, after quarrels over Josie Mansfield and business matters, an associate, Edward Stokes, fatally shot Fisk.

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Universalium. 2010.

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