1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Villard, Henry

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VILLARD, HENRY (1835-1900), American journalist and financier, was born in Speyer, Rhenish Bavaria, on the 10th of April 1835. His baptismal name was Ferdinand Heinrich Gustav Hilgard. His parents removed to Zweibrücken in 1839, and in 1856 his father, Gustav Leonhard Hilgard (d. 1867), became a justice of the Supreme Court of Bavaria, at Munich. Henry was educated at the gymnasium of Zweibrücken, at the French semi-military academy in Phalsbourg in 1849-50, at the gymnasium of Speyer in 1850-52, and at the universities of Munich and Wurzburg in 1852-53; and in 1853, having had a disagreement with his father, emigrated—without his parents' knowledge—to the United States. It was at this time that he adopted the name Villard. Making his way westward in 1854, he lived in turn at Cincinnati, Belleville (Illinois), Peoria (Illinois) and Chicago, engaged in various employments, and in 1856 formed a project, which came to nothing, for establishing a colony of “free soil” Germans in Kansas. In 1856-57 he was editor, and for part of the time was proprietor, of the Racine (Wis.) Volksblatt, in which he advocated the election of John C. Frémont (Republican). Thereafter he was associated (in 1857) with the Staats-Zeitung, Frank Leslie's and the Tribune, of New York, and with the Cincinnati Commercial in 1859-60; was correspondent of the New York Herald in 1861 and of the New York Tribune (with the Army of the Potomac) in 1862-63, and in 1864 was at the front as the representative of a news agency established by him in that year at Washington. In 1865 he became Washington correspondent of the Chicago Tribune, and in 1866 was the correspondent of that paper in the Prusso-Austrian War. He began to take an interest in railway financiering in 1871, was elected president of the Oregon & California railroad and of the Oregon Steamship Company in 1876, was receiver of the Kansas Pacific railway in 1876-78, organized the Oregon Railway & Navigation Company in 1879, the Oregon Improvement Company in 1880, and the Oregon & Transcontinental Company in 1881, becoming in that year president of the Northern Pacific railway, which was completed under his management, and of which he remained president until 1883. In 1887 he again became connected with the Northern Pacific, and in 1889 was chosen chairman of its finance committee. He was actively identified with the financing of other Western railway projects until 1893. In 1881 he acquired the New York Evening Post and the Nation. In 1883 he paid the debt of the state university of Oregon, and gave to the institution $50,000, and he also gave to the town of Zweibrücken, the home of his boyhood, an orphan asylum (1891). He died on the 12th of November 1900.

See Memoirs of Henry Villard, Journalist and Financier, 1835-1900 (2 vols., Boston, 1904).