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Gordon Bennett

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James Gordon Bennett Sr, PD via WP
James Gordon Bennett Sr

Gordon Bennett (James Gordon Bennett Sr) was born in 1795, on a farm near Enzie, about three miles from Buckie.

He travelled to North America with just £5 in his pocket when he was 24, where he took on a number of copy writing jobs, intending to make it big in the newspaper world.

By 1835, he had founded the New York Herald with a budget of just $500, producing the four-page penny paper from a cellar in the city. From this beginning, Bennett spent the next 37 years building it into a newspaper which then had the largest circulation in the world.

Bennett became an extremely wealthy man as his paper's circulation soared. He was the first to list daily closing prices on the New York Stock Exchange, to have a 'society column', and hired some 63 correspondents to cover the Civil War. He expanded his paper's distribution using rail and steamship to meet his readers' demand.

Gordon Bennett!

 James Gordon Bennett Jr, PD via WP
James Gordon Bennett Jr

Gordon Bennett! became a polite way of expressing surprise.

But this expression was due to his son, also James Gordon Bennett, and one of America’s most famous playboys of the day who indulged in fast cars, planes, and women after becoming the fantastically rich heir to his father’s fortune. He used his inheritance to sponsor the Isle of Man Bennett Trophy motor races between 1900 and 1905, and the Gordon Bennett Cup international hot air balloon race, still being held today.

James Gordon Bennett Junior took over the Herald in 1866, believing its purpose was: "not to instruct, but to startle".

He believed in stunts and sensation for both his paper and in his not-so-private life, and made it entered the Guinness Book of Records for the Greatest Engagement Faux Pas after urinating, blazing drunk, in the fireplace of the home of his fiancées parents. Incidents such as this ultimately led to "Gordon Bennett!" being used as a polite way of dealing with the unexpected.



1 Gordon Bennett! The Scot behind the popular saying - The Scotsman Retrieved 8 May 2017.

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