JOHN WILLIAM MACKAY was one of America's noted men, both in the development of the western coast and the building
of the Mackay and Bennett cable. He was born in 1831 at Dublin, Ireland;. came to New York in 1840 and his boyhood.
days were spent in Park Row. He went to California some time after the argonauts. of 1849 and took to the primitive
methods.. of mining, lost and won and finally drifted into Nevada about 1860. The bonanza discoveries which were
to have such a potent. influence on the finance and statesmanship of the day came in 1872. Mr. Mackay founded the
Nevada Bank in 1878. He is said to have taken one hundred and. fifty million dollars in bullion out of the Big
Bonanza mine. There were associated with him in this enterprise James G. Fair, senator from Nevada; William O'Brien
and James C. Flood. When vast wealth came to Mr. Mackay he believed it his duty to do his country some service,
and he agitated in his mind the. building of an American steamship line, and while brooding over this his attention
was called to the cable relations between America and Europe. The financial management of the cable was selfish
and extravagant, and the capital was heavy with accretions of financial "water" and to pay even an apparent
dividend upon the sums which represented the nominal value of the cables, it was necessary to hold the rates. at
an exorbitant figure. And, moreover, the cables were foreign; in one the influence of France being paramount and
in the other that of England; and in the matter of intelligence, so necessary in case of war, we would be at the
mercy of our enemies. This train of thought brought Mr. Mackay into relation with James Gordon Bennett, the proprietor
of the "New York Herald." The result of their intercourse was that Mr. Mackay so far entered into the
enthusiasm of Mr. Bennett over an independent cable, that he offered to assist the enterprise with five hundred
thousand dollars. This was the inception of the Commercial Cable Company, or of what has been known for years as
the Mackay Bennett cable.
A Biographical Record
Of Schuyler County, New York
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company
New York and Chicago 1903.
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