”“Spencer Trask has so profoundly inspired me
that I am compelled to share his story…
Chairman, Spencer Trask & Co.
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Spencer Trask backed
entrepreneurs who changed the world,
leaving a rich legacy that
ripples through our lives every day
Trask supported Edison’s incandescent light and ran the ﬁrst electric network
He built one of only a handful of Wall Street ﬁrms to survive almost a century
He helped New York Times emerge from the ruins of receivership and remake itself into
one of the world’s most inﬂuential newspapers
He ﬁnanced the westward expansion of the US. Railroads,
the beginning of the music industry,
and the national rollout of electricity…
…thus helping usher in the modern age
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Mr. Trask’s ﬁnancial support of the electric lighting industry in its
pioneer days was a potent feature in securing to the community the
advantages and conveniences of the electric light and his unbound faith
and stupendous conﬁdence in the future of the central
station business laid the foundation for its future prosperity.
New York Edison Company
— 5 —
Trask’s support of the arts is unparalleled in American history
As a founder of the National Arts Club, Trask was ahead of his time, insisting on
With Clara Barton, he led national Red Cross fundraising efforts
He helped found Teacher’s College, then primarily a women’s college, now part of
He turned his estate in Saratoga Springs in the Yaddo artist’s retreat
— 6 —
Yaddo has welcomed such luminaries as James Baldwin, Leonard Bernstein,
Flannery O’Connor, Langston Hughes, Truman Capote, and John Cheever, who said:
Guests at Yaddo have collectively won:
Sixty-Three Pulitzer Prizes
Fifty-eight National Book Awards
One Nobel Prize
The forty or so acres on which the principal buildings of Yaddo stand have seen more
distinguished activity in the arts than any other piece of
ground in the English speaking community and perhaps the world.
poets.org pen.org brainpickings.org pbs.org amsaw.org
— 7 —
His generosity was so great that he sheltered and fed
all his friends, rich and poor alike,
provided they possessed talent and ability.
The New York Times
— 8 —
New York can ill afford to
lose Spencer Trask. He
ignored the favorite on
public-spirited men of
wealth. Though he belonged
to many of the larger clubs,
he rarely entered their
doors…He was not a
stockholder of the opera or a
supporter of fashionable
His charities were
large and unostentatious.
New York Times editorial
eulogizing Spencer Trask
— 9 —
To him life gave its best, and from him it demanded
a heavy toll of afﬂiction and grief. But sorrow
could not dishearten him and pain did not unnerve
him. They only seemed to strengthen his will.
He had but one object:
to do right and serve his fellow man.
Charles Evans Hughes
Governor of New York
— 10 —
His harvests did not make men poorer, but richer, for the money made
life more abundant to him and to all those with whom he had to do.
William T. Evans
National Arts Club
— 11 —
For a man’s life consisteth not in
the abundance of the things
which he possesseth.
from The Parable of the Rich Fool,
found in Spencer Trask’s wallet after his death
— 12 —
Through Spencer Trask, entrepreneurs and artists alike gained support for their dreams.
He helped electrify the world, illuminate social issues with The New York Times, and,
through Yaddo, entertain and enlighten us for a century.
The more I learned about Spencer Trask, the more he helped me see what really matters:
faith, the power of human creativity, and a long term commitment to people worth
being loved and admired.
I could not have found a better role model.
Chairman, Spencer Trask & Co.