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Atkinson, Edward (10 February 1827–11 December 1905), businessman and reformer, was born in Brookline, Massachusetts, the son of Amos Atkinson II, a merchant, and Anna Greenleaf Sawyer. He was educated in private schools in both Brookline and Boston, but the family’s financial distress prevented him from attending Harvard as planned and propelled him instead at age fifteen into the world of business. After rising to the accounting department of a Boston dry goods firm, Atkinson in 1851 was appointed treasurer and agent of the textile company Ogden Mills....

Article

Sydney V. James and Gail Fowler Mohanty

Brown, Moses (12 September 1738–06 September 1836), merchant and philanthropist, was born in Providence, Rhode Island, the son of James Brown, merchant, and Hope Power. The father died the next year, leaving a variety of properties and businesses, which indicates that his family was far from poor. Moses Brown had a few years of formal schooling before being apprenticed to his merchant uncle, Obadiah, to learn the intricacies of eighteenth-century commerce and to be adopted as a son and partner. After Obadiah died in 1762, Moses managed the business, and in 1774 married Obadiah’s daughter Anna, who bore three children, two of whom lived to maturity. Moses joined his three surviving brothers in the firm of Nicholas Brown & Co. to operate the family businesses. The profits of trade were diversified by manufacturing and money-lending. The Brown brothers inherited profitable candle and chocolate works and started a plant to smelt and work iron. They also tried at least one ill-fated slaving voyage....

Article

Cone, Moses Herman (29 June 1857–08 December 1908), textile entrepreneur, was born in Jonesboro, Tennessee, the son of Herman Kahn, a Jewish wholesale grocery merchant, and Helen Guggenheimer. Cone’s father was born in Bavaria, and his mother, though born in Virginia, was of German heritage. When Cone’s father moved to the United States, the family name was changed to Cone. Cone was the eldest of thirteen children and spent his formative years in Jonesboro, where his father owned a grocery store. The family moved in 1870 to Baltimore, Maryland, where Cone attended the public schools....

Article

Hazard, Thomas Robinson (03 January 1797–26 March 1886), manufacturer and reformer, was born in South Kingstown, Rhode Island, the son of Rowland Hazard, a manufacturer and merchant, and Mary Peace. Hazard’s father established the Peace Dale Manufacturing Company, the first water-powered wool-carding and fulling mill in South Kingstown, about 1802, on the site of an eighteenth-century fulling mill. By 1814 the company had expanded to include spinning and perhaps the earliest power loom-weaving in the state. After limited formal education at Westtown in Pennsylvania, and after training in mill management and operations at the growing enterprise, Hazard worked in the family’s woolen business between 1813 and 1842....

Article

Howland, William Dillwyn (27 March 1853–23 April 1897), textile manufacturer, was born in New Bedford, Massachusetts, the son of Matthew Howland, a whaling merchant, and Rachel Collins Smith. Howland was raised in one of New Bedford’s wealthiest and most prominent families. He graduated from Brown University with a bachelor of philosophy degree in 1874. After college Howland worked in his father’s whaling firm. In 1875 he married Caroline Thomas Child, with whom he had two children. Howland was hired in 1877 to work in the office at the Wamsutta Mills, the largest of a number of textile mills that transformed New Bedford in the late nineteenth century from a whaling port into one of the major cotton textile manufacturing centers of America....

Article

King, Roswell (03 May 1765–15 February 1844), builder, overseer, and manufacturer, was born in Windsor, Connecticut, the son of Timothy King and Sarah Anne Fitch, weavers. King’s parents were poor at his birth but prospered thereafter. The extent of his education is unknown, but some is presumed on account of his birth in New England, where schools were generally available, and to his writing ability. Like many New Englanders in the postrevolutionary period, he moved to the South. He settled in Darien, Georgia, in 1789 and married Catherine Barrington in 1792. The couple had nine children. In Darien, King became county surveyor, justice of the peace, justice of the county inferior court, and a member of the Georgia House of Representatives (1794–1795). Two brothers, Reuben and Thomas, also came to Darien after King. King and his brother Reuben entered into a partnership to tan leather and make shoes, with his brother doing the work and King apparently supplying the capital. Early in his stay at Darien, King was the builder of Thomas Spalding’s South End House on Sapelo Island, built of tabby....

Article

Lawrence, Abbott (16 December 1792–18 August 1855), manufacturer, philanthropist, and diplomat, was born in Groton, Massachusetts, the son of Samuel Lawrence and Susanna Parker, farmers. Lawrence was educated at the district school and the town academy. In 1808 he went to Boston as an apprentice in the warehouse of his older brother, Amos Lawrence (1786–1852), who was a well-established merchant in the city. In 1814 Abbott was admitted to partnership, and the firm of A. & A. Lawrence was founded, specializing in imports of English goods. Taking advantage of renewed trade following the War of 1812, the firm became one of the wealthiest in Boston. In 1819 Lawrence married Katherine Bigelow, the daughter of Timothy Bigelow, then Speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives. Lawrence and his wife had seven children....

Article

Lowell, John (11 May 1799–04 March 1836), philanthropist and businessman, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of Francis Cabot Lowell, one of the nation’s first great cotton manufacturers, and Hannah Jackson. Lowell, whose family generally called him John, Jr., was born prematurely and was sickly as a boy. In 1810 he accompanied his family on an extended trip to Europe. While Lowell attended school in Edinburgh, Scotland, his father studied the new English power looms, surreptitiously gathering enough information to launch mechanized cotton weaving in the United States. The next year the family moved to Paris, where Lowell again attended school. Sailing home on an American ship in the midst of the War of 1812, they were captured by the British and detained in Halifax, Nova Scotia, before finally arriving back in Boston....

Article

Slater, John Fox (04 March 1815–07 May 1884), textile manufacturer and philanthropist, was born in Slatersville, Rhode Island, the son of John Slater, a successful cotton manufacturer who established the company town of Slatersville, and Ruth Bucklin. Slatersville was sited by John Slater in 1805, two years after he migrated to the United States, at age twenty-seven, from Derbyshire, England, bringing with him a knowledge of the latest in cotton textile technology. John joined his older brother ...