Philadelphia: 1876. Autograph letter signed by Cooke. Fine condition. Fine. Item #List2024
An interesting and candid letter written by Jay Cooke to [Edwin M.] Lewis, the trustee in charge of Cooke’s assets following the dissolution of his company in 1873 and the ensuing financial panic. The letter specifically concerns shares of the Western Land Association. Cooke organized the Western Land Association after investing heavily in the Lake Superior Mississippi Line in 1866, and his overextension and the eventual closing of his company in 1876 led to national panic and financial ruin. Cooke would eventually recover some of his wealth, and this letter attests to his belief that his investments in the midwest would eventually pan out.
“Cooke was extremely discouraged by events surrounding the dissolution of his company. He felt betrayed by many whom he had considered friends. In addition, he had not recovered emotionally from the death of his wife in 1871. His financial downturn forced him to move from his estate into a much smaller house, and he was not allowed to be involved in the reorganization of his company. His son-in-law reopened the firm eventually under the name Charles D. Barney & Company.
Several years after complete withdrawal from the financial world, Cooke gradually reentered it. He invested in silver mines and land in Minnesota. - ANB
Overall a substantive and interesting survival documenting the tail end of Cooke’s career.
Full text reads:
Office of JAY COOKE & CO., Bankers
114 South Third Street,
Philadelphia, May 19, 1876
Dear Mr. Lewis,
Referring to my conversation with you about subscribing to the 1 M Bds of the Western Land Association pro rata with other stockholders, I wish further to say that if you can legally take the proportion allotted to our Estate, I wish you would do so. It is sad that this course has to be resorted to, but it cannot be avoided.
If you will take your share, Messrs Clarks, I am told, will also subscribe their proportion.
I think it vital to the protection of our vast interests there, which 'some of these days' will be extremely valuable.