Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Cooke, Eleutheros

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COOKE, Eleutheros, congressman, b. in Granville, N. Y., 25 Dec., 1787; d. in Sandusky, Ohio, 27 Dec., 1864. His name was given him in commemoration of the framing of the Federal constitution in 1787, the year of his birth. After receiving a liberal education, he studied law and began practice in Granville, but removed in 1817 to Madison, Ind., in 1819 to Bloomingville, Ohio, and in 1820 to Sandusky, where he rose to the front rank of his profession. He was for several years a member of the legislature, and was elected to congress as a whig, serving one term, from 1831 till 1833. He was a candidate for re-election, and received a majority of the votes cast, but was defeated on a technicality. While he was in congress, Mr. Stanberry, of Ohio, was assaulted on the street by Gen. Houston, in consequence of remarks made on the floor of the house. In bringing the matter before congress, Mr. Cooke said that if he and his friends were denied protection by that body, he would “flee to the bosom of his constituents,” and this expression was taken up by his political opponents and remained a catch-word for some time. Mr. Cooke was the pioneer of railroad enterprise in the west, having been the projector of the Mad River railroad, now the Sandusky, Dayton and Cincinnati railroad.—His son, Jay, banker, b. in Sandusky, Ohio, 10 Aug., 1821, went in 1838 to Philadelphia, where he entered the banking-house of E. W. Clark & Co. as a clerk, and became a partner in 1842. He retired in 1858, and in 1861 established a new firm of which he was the head. Through the influence of Salmon P. Chase, Mr. Cooke's personal friend, this house became the government agent for the placing of the war loans, and by his success in negotiating them Mr. Cooke contributed materially to the success of the national cause. After the war the firm acted as agents for the Northern Pacific railroad, and its suspension in 1873, growing out of its connection with that enterprise, was one of the causes of the financial panic of that year. Mr. Cooke subsequently resumed business with success.—Another son, Henry David, journalist, b. in Sandusky, Ohio, 23 Nov., 1825; d. in Georgetown, D. C., 29 Feb., 1881, was graduated at Transylvania university, Kentucky, in 1844, and began the study of the law, but soon turned his attention to writing for the press. In 1847 he sailed for Valparaiso, Chili, as an attaché to the American consul there, but was shipwrecked. Being detained at St. Thomas after the wreck, he conceived the idea of a steamship line from New York to California via the isthmus of Panama, and wrote concerning it to the Philadelphia “United States Gazette” and the New York “Courier and Enquirer.” The attention of the state department was called to the correspondence by Consul W. G. Moorhead, and in about two years the Pacific mail steamship company was organized. Mr. Cooke afterward lived in California, where he was actively connected with shipping interests. He was the first to announce to the authorities at Washington, through a despatch from the military governor of California, the discovery of gold in the Sacramento valley. Becoming involved by suretyship for a reckless speculator, he lost his fortune, and returned to Sandusky in comparative poverty. He then engaged in journalism, becoming one of the owners of the Sandusky “Register,” and afterward of the Columbus “State Journal.” In 1856 he was a presidential elector, and in 1861 became a partner in the house of Jay Cooke & Co. He was appointed the first governor of the District of Columbia, but resigned in 1873. The last twenty years of his life were spent in Georgetown, where he was noted for his benefactions. He built a mission church in that city, gave $20,000 toward an Episcopal church, and made other gifts for public benefit.