Happy birthday James Gordon Bennett Jr.

Portrait of James Gordon Bennett, Jr.

Portrait of James Gordon Bennett, Jr.

James Gordon Bennett Jr. (May 10, 1841 – May 14, 1918) was publisher of the New York Herald, founded by his father, James Gordon Bennett Sr., who emigrated from Scotland. He was generally known as Gordon Bennett to distinguish him from his father. Among his many sports-related accomplishments he organized both the first polo match and the first tennis match in the United States, and he personally won the first trans-oceanic yacht race. He sponsored explorers including Henry Morton Stanley’s trip to Africa to find David Livingstone, and the ill-fated USS Jeannette attempt on the North Pole.

Bennett, like many of his social class, indulged in the “good life”: yachts, opulent private railroad cars, and lavish mansions. He was the youngest Commodore ever of the New York Yacht Club.

Coupe Gordon Bennet 1906

Coupe Gordon Bennet 1906

He established the Gordon Bennett Cup for international yachting and the Gordon Bennett Cup for automobile races. In 1906, he funded the Gordon Bennett Cup in ballooning (Coupe Aéronautique Gordon Bennett), which continues to this day. In 1909, Bennett offered a trophy for the fastest speed on a closed circuit for airplanes. The 1909 race in Rheims, France was won by Glenn Curtiss for two circuits of a 10 km rectangular course at an average speed of 46.5 miles per hour (74.8 km/h). From 1896 to 1914, the champion of Paris, USFSA football (soccer), received a trophy offered by Gordon Bennett.

He died May 14, 1918 (aged 77) in Beaulieu-sur-Mer, Alpes-Maritimes, France.

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