Jay Cooke: The Napoleon of finance
Wars cost money -- lots of money -- and it is axiomatic that the larger the war, the longer it lasts, the more it costs. The American Civil War was colossal and protracted; both sides were in desperate need of funds. Fortunately for the Union, a relatively unknown banker, Jay Cooke, stepped forward and helped change the course of the war and American history. Cooke was probably the first boy born in Sandusky, Ohio. It was Aug. 10, 1821, and his father, Eleutheros, a prosperous lawyer and congressman, named him Jay in honor of John Jay, the chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. It was a comfortable and contented childhood, where well-educated parents shared their knowledge and "moral volumes on all subjects," and the surrounding wilderness beckoned the burgeoning fisherman and hunter.