JAY COOKE'S GAMBLE: The Northern Pacific Railroad, the Sioux, and the Panic of 1873: In 1869 Jay Cooke, the countryÌÎÌ_ÌÎ__ÌÎÌ_ÌÎ__ÌÎÌ_Ì´åÇÌÎÌ_ÌÎå_s leading banker and the ÌÎÌ_ÌÎ__ÌÎÌ_ÌÎ__ÌÎÌ_ÌÎ_ÌÎÌ_ÌÎå¢Financier of the Civil WarÌÎÌ_ÌÎ__ÌÎÌ_ÌÎ__ÌÎÌ_Ì´åÇÌÎå«Ì´å was, at 48, bored by just making money. After being rejected as secretary of the treasury by President Grant, the brilliant but idiosyncratic Cooke decided to do something as challenging: finance the Northern Pacific, a transcontinental railroad planned from Duluth to Seattle.
But Cooke, whose reputation and wealth were at stake, did not anticipate inept and dishonest Northern Pacific management nor realize the challenges of crossing 125 miles of Minnesota swamp. Cooke failed to understand that he couldnÌÎÌ_ÌÎ__ÌÎÌ_ÌÎ__ÌÎÌ_Ì´åÇÌÎÌ_ÌÎå_t control Congress, and was unprepared for the far-flung business and political coalition that challenged him. Most of all, he underestimated the determination of Sitting Bull's Sioux and Cheyenne followers to continue living and hunting as in the past.
When the Northern Pacific and the Army ignored Sitting Bull's warning not to enter the Yellowstone Valley, Indian attacks combined with alcoholic military commanders led to embarrassing setbacks on the field and in the nation's press. Reluctantly, Grant was forced to turn to the soldier he most distrusted Custer. Yet, sustained by his conviction that he was "God's chosen instrument, Cooke never gave up.