PETER COOPER was in 'three particulars - as a capitalist and manufacturer, as an inventor, and as a philanthropist
- connected intimately with some of the most important and useful accessions to the industrial arts of America,
its progress in invention and the promotion of educational and benevolent institutions intended for the benefit
of people at large. He was born in New York city, February 12, 1791. His life was one of labor and struggle, as
it was with most of America's successful men. In early boyhood he commenced to help his father as a manufacturer
of hats. He attended school only for half of each day for a single year, and beyond this his acquisitions were
all his own. When seventeen years old he was placed with John Woodward to learn the trade of coach making and served
his apprenticeship so satisfactorily that his master offtred to set him up in business, but this he declined because
of the debt and obligation it would involve.
The foundation of Mr. Cooper's. fortune was laid in the invention of an improvement. in machines for shearing cloth.
This was largely called into use during the war of 1812 with England when all importations of cloth from that country
were stopped. The machines lost their value, however, on the declaration of peace. Mr. Cooper then turned his shop
into the manufacture of cabinet ware. He afterwards went into the grocery business in New York and finally he engaged
in the manufacture of glue and isinglass which he carried on for more than fifty years. In 1830 he erected iron
works in Canton, near Baltimore, Subsequently he erected a roIling and a wire mill in the city of New York, in
which he first success fully applied anthracite to the puddling of iron. In these works, he was the first to roll
wrought iron beams for fire proof buildings. These works grew to be very extensive. inciuding mines, blast farnaces,
etc. While in Baltimore Mr. Cooper built in 1830, after his own designs, the first locomotive engine ever constructed
on this continent and it was successfully operated on the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad. He also took a great interest
and invested large capital in the extension of the electric telegraph, also in the laying of the first Atlantic
cable; besides interesting himself largely in the New York state canals. But the most cherished object of Mr. Cooper's
life was the establishment of an institution for the instruction of the industrial classes, which he carried out
on a magnificent scale in New York city, where the "Cooper Union" ranks among the most important institutions.
In May, 1876, the Independent party nominated Mr. Cooper for president of the United States, and at the election
following he received nearly 100,000 votes. His death occurred April 4, 1883.
A Biographical Record
Of Schuyler County, New York
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company
New York and Chicago 1903.
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