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Series One: The Papers of Jay Cooke (1821-1905) from the Historical Society of Pennsylvania

Part 4: General Correspondence, May 1870-December 1871

"This is a very important collection.  The Jay Cooke Papers are an excellent source for the politics of the period; for information on the Northern Pacific Railroad and other railroad expansion; on banking and American bonds internationally; on Westward Expansion; the selling of land; the buying of land; the Alabama Claims; the 'stealing of land' from the Indians; considerable very frank and revealing information about all kinds of political schemes and social disturbances; and for the very full insight they give into lobbying on a day to day basis." 
Mark W Summers, Professor of History, University of Kentucky at Lexington, Consultant Editor

The strength of the Cooke collection lies in the 106 boxes of correspondence it contains. These are a vital source describing politics, finance and metropolitan culture in Civil War and Gilded Age America.  

Part 4 covers the period from 1870 to 1871.  There is much on life in Washington DC, New York and Philadelphia; both gossip and accounts of political intrigues and projects for westward expansion.   There are also reports from Ohio, Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Missouri, Montana and Oregon.  There is material on:

  • Progress of The Northern Pacific Railroad;
  • Continued buying and selling of land;
  • Exploitation of mineral resources and accounts of failed ventures;
  • Washington politics;
  • The outcome of the New Hampshire state elections in 1872.

The correspondence between Jay, Henry and Pitt Cooke is remarkable.  Jay Cooke retained copies of his own correspondence as well as those sent to him, and these now provide a unique historical record of a period in which they wielded considerable power.  In addition to their own letters, there are also reports from contacts all over America - from congressmen to newspaper reporters, and from foreign emissaries to land agents.   

Editorial introduction
Digital Guide
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