Was Jim Fisk the One Who Created Black Friday?

Jims Fisk was one of the people who created the Black Friday or to be more precise, committed actions that caused people to nickname Friday “Black”. This article is about the life of a Jim Fisk. If you are interested in precise details about the process of Black Friday creation rather then the stories of its inventors then you should read The Crash of the U.S. Gold Market.

Biography of Jim Fisk

Jim Fisk
Jim Fisk

Golden Child Born For Business

Circus Scene
Sometimes it’s the circus where you learn the most serious things about life and business.

Fisk was born on April 1, 1835, in the hamlet of Pownal, Vermont, in Bennington County. He wasn’t a big fan of school. Bad spelling and grammar stuck with him until the rest of his life. All he learned was basic accounting. But since his earliest age, he was absolutely fascinated by the business. His father was traveling peddler who sold his wears from the horse-pulled wagon. That circumstance gave Fisk the opportunity of first-hand learning and discovering his talents. Before working in the family business, Fisk left school and ran away. He joined the circus. Later, he became a hotel waiter. And in the end, while he was still a teenager, Fisk joined his father on peddling trips. It turned out that Jim possessed a natural gift in relating to customers. Seeing that his father allowed him to have one wagon with horses all for himself. It wasn’t long before young Fisk earned enough money to make an offer to father and buy out the whole business.

Importance of Show

The first thing he did after becoming the owner was buying pretty horses and wagons. It attracted people regardless of whether they had the intention of buying something or not. They would approach just to admire the horses. That added to the sales increase. Jim’s knowledge from the circus was confirmed – a show had to be made and everything had to look pretty. Eventually, following his rising ambitions, Fisk took the position of a salesman in Jordan Marsh firm in Boston from which he had bought a lot of goods. Jordan Marsh was an American department store chain that was headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts and operated throughout New England. It didn’t pass well. After failing as salesman Fisk was sent Washington to sell cotton. That was the year 1861 – the beginning of the Civil War.

Business In Washington

After coming to Washington, Fisk set up his headquarters in a hotel. The target of his business where the government officials scurrying to supply the army. He would approach them in a spirit of entertainment. After establishing a convenient connection he would switch the direction of conversation towards business. In the Boston warehouse, there were piles of unsold cotton shirts and woolen blankets. Most likely through bribery, he secured selling contracts. In addition, he was involved in cotton smuggling over enemy lines. Allegedly, his father was involved too. By some sources, he was able to sell it for an astonishing triple price. Yet, when doing business with the Union Fisk had some moral principles. He was also known for his despise towards the merchants that sold shoddy wares to soldiers.

Railroad Wars – The Battle For Erie

Traing travelling on Erie Railroad
If those reails could say its secrets…

As the Civil War was coming to an end Fisk decided to move. His next destination was New York City where he became a broker. Soon he was known to the wall street. Fisk managed to enter the partnership with Daniel Drew. He was known as the eccentric who got rich through cattle drover business. Drew was controlling Erie Railroad. The richest man in America, Cornelius Vanderbilt, wanted to buy all the railroad stock in order to gain the full control and add Erie to his portfolio of railways. In order to stop the realization of Vanderbilt’s intentions, Drew started cooperating with Jay Gould. Those circumstances led to the creation of an unlikely partnership between Fisk and Gould which had produced the Black Friday.

In March 1868 the “Erie War” came to its peak. Vanderbilt went to court and managed to get the arrest warrants for Drew, Gould, and Fisk. Three of them fled across the Hudson River to Jersey City, New Jersey. They have fortified themselves in the hotel room.

As Drew and Gould brooded and plotted, Fisk gave grandiose interviews to the press, strutting about and denouncing Vanderbilt. It ended in a settlement. Glod and Fisk became the directors of Erie railroad.

In his well-known manner, Fisk had bought an opera house on 23rd Street in New York City and arranged the railroad’s offices on the second floor.

Cornering the Gold Market – Black Friday Conspiracy

In the era after the civil war, markets weren’t so regulated which allowed speculators like Jay Gould and Jim Fisk to enforce their will. After a lot of examination, Jay Gould was the one to notice quirks in the system. Then he came out in front of Fisk with a plan. The goal was to corner the gold market. In general, to corner the market means to acquire a certain product in amounts that will be enough to dictate its price on the market. They have started buying gold stocks via their mediators planning to drive the price sky-high. As rich people, they enjoyed the privilege of highly influential company and they had event got in touch with the president. Their action resulted in what history remembered as The Crash of the U.S. Gold Market that occurred on September 24, 1869. The involvement of the Federal Government through selling gold in order to drop sky prices pushed by Gould and Fisk managed to return the state to normal. Later investigations couldn’t establish any pieces of evidence that Jay Gould and Jim Fisk had broken any law.

The Assassination of Jim Fisk

Cover of Book Titled the Murder of Jim Fisk
Find out why was Jim assasinated.

Fisk lived a life full of debauchery. He loved to put a good show and make displays of wealth and beauty he enjoyed. He was murdered on a staircase of the Metropolitan Hotel on Jan. 6, 1872. Fisk died due to his wounds but had lived and was conscious long enough to identify his killer. The murder was committed by Edvard Stokes who had some unsettled business scores with Fisk. There is also a theory that it was a crime out of passion triggered by Helen Josephine Mansfield nicknamed Josie.

Fisk’s Love Life

Fisk entered the marriage when he was 19 marrying Lucy Moore which was 15 at the time. She was an orphan from Springfield raised by her uncle. She tolerated all of Fisk’s affairs and had one of her own. Despite that, Lucy and Fisk remained close with Jim visiting every few weeks and spending summers and vacations together.

In New York, Fisk had a relationship with Josie Mansfield. Mansfield was considered for a perfect looking woman by Victorian standards. Fisk housed Mansfield in an apartment a few doors down from the Erie Railroad headquarters on West 23rd Street and had a covered passage built linking the back doors of the headquarters and her apartment building. Their relationship was shocking New York society.

Josie Mansfield
Josie Mansfield – Jim Fisk’s lover

Mansfield eventually fell in love with Fisk’s business associate Edward Stokes known for his good looks. Stokes left his wife and family, and Mansfield left Fisk. The murder of Jim Fisk probably wasn’t triggered only by unsettled business scores. It is very reasonable to think that it was a combination of emotional and economic factors. His ex-partner was enraged for Jim being able to pull the fraud without consequences which, together with Josie’s invigoration for payback, resulted in such an act.

History will remember him as one of the most notorious robber barons of his time.

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