RUSSELL SAGE Biography - Bussiness people and enterpreneurs


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Name: Russell Sage                                                                             
Born: 4 August 1816                                                                             
Died: 22 July 1906                                                                             
Russell Sage (4 August 1816 - 22 July 1906) was a financier and politician from                 
New York, United States.                                                                       
Sage was born at Verona in Oneida County, New York. He received a public school                 
education and worked as a farm hand until he was 15, when he became an errand                   
boy in a grocery conducted by his brother, Henry R. Sage, in Troy, New York. He                 
had a part interest in 1837-1839 in a retail grocery in Troy, and in a wholesale               
store there in 1839-1857. In 1841 he was elected an alderman, and he was re-elected             
to this office until 1848, also serving for seven years as treasurer of                         
Rensselaer County. He was then elected to Congress as a Whig, and served, with                 
re-election, from 5 December 1853 until 3 March 1857. He served on the Ways and                 
Means Committee. Sage was the first person to advocate, on the floor of Congress,               
the purchase of Mount Vernon by the government. Subsequently he settled in New                 
York City and engaged in the business of selling puts and calls and privileges                 
on Wall Street.                                                                                 
On 7 May 1867, Sage's first wife died of stomach cancer. This purportedly led to               
his focus on the accumulation of wealth later in life. In 1869, Sage was                       
involved in a case concerning the usury laws in New York state, accused of being               
the gang leader in an usury group. He was convicted and fined $500, but his jail               
sentence was suspended. Later that year, Sage married his second wife, Olivia                   
He bought a seat on the New York Stock Exchange (1874) and thereafter was known                 
as a financier. At the same time he became interested in railroads, and secured                 
stocks in western roads, notably the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railroad,                 
of which he was president and vice-president for twelve years. By disposing of                 
these investments, as the smaller roads were absorbed by trunk-lines, he became                 
In his later years he was closely associated with Jay Gould in the management of               
the Wabash Railway, St. Louis and Pacific, Missouri Pacific Railroad, Missouri-Kansas-Texas     
Railroad, Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad and the St. Louis - San                     
Francisco Railway, the American cable company, the Western Union telegraph                     
company and the Manhattan consolidated system of elevated railroads in New York                 
city, in all of which corporations he was a director. Mr. Sage was for many                     
years closely connected with the affairs of the Union Pacific Railroad, of which               
he was a director. He was a director and vice-president in the Importers and                   
Traders' National Bank for twenty years, and also a director in the Merchants'                 
Trust Company and in the Fifth Avenue Bank of New York City.                                   
In 1891, a man toting a dynamite bomb appeared in his office and demanded a                     
large amount of money. His demand was refused, and the bomb exploded, killing                   
the bomb-toting man and Sage's secretary.                                                       
In 1906 he died and left his entire fortune of about $70 million to his wife,                   
Margaret Olivia Slocum Sage (1828-1918), who subsequently devoted a major                       
portion of these funds to philanthropy. In 1907 she established the Russell Sage               
Foundation, and in 1916 she founded Russell Sage College in Troy. In addition                   
she gave extensively to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) and the Emma                     
Willard School.