century association biographical archive

Earliest Members of the Century Association

View all members

Cyrus W. Field


Centurion, 1860–1892

Full Name Cyrus West Field

Born 30 November 1819 in Stockbridge, Massachusetts

Died 12 July 1892 in Irvington, New York

Buried Stockbridge Cemetery, Stockbridge, Massachusetts

Proposed by Benjamin R. Winthrop and Smith Clift

Elected 3 November 1860 at age forty

Archivist’s Note: Brother of David Dudley Field; uncle of Dudley Field; father-in-law of James B. Andrews

Century Memorial

The name of Cyrus W. Field is worthy of association with those of Fulton, Stephenson, Morse, and Ericsson, as benefactors to mankind. Inheriting from a vigorous ancestry a capacity, energy, and perseverance that would brook no obstacles—characteristic of other members of his family as well—he strode from poverty to wealth, through various vicissitudes, but with unstained integrity. Engaged in gigantic enterprises, he stood on the brink of financial ruin in promoting them; endured failure on the verge of success, despair on the heels of hope, ridicule swift after praise, long unbroken, wearying suspense, varying with exaltation and depression, until, after thirteen years of doubt and trial, and tireless labor, his triumph came, and with it fame, and the honors of two continents. The Atlantic Cable is a monument to his memory that shall endure while time shall last, but as the promoter of the Elevated Railroad in New York, at a time when its feasibility was problematical, success uncertain, and capital was timid, he is entitled no less to the grateful memory of our people. Despite mistakes (and who has not made them) what single enterprise, since the building of the Erie Canal, has done more to enhance the wealth and prosperity of the Metropolis than this last monument to his foresight and energy. Deceit and betrayal at various times by his associates he bore without a murmur; but at the last, when domestic sorrows came upon him—not as single spies but in battalions—he sank beneath them, and our pity follows him as did our praise.

Henry E. Howland
1893 Century Association Yearbook