Biography of John W. MacKay
Famous American Biographies

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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