IT is seldom we find great business ability and literary genius so beautifully
blended in any one character as they unmistakably are shown to be in that of Hon. James Phinney Baxter, of Portland.
While during the last thirty years he has been engaged in directing large business enterprises that would apparently
absorb all the energies and take all the time of almost any man, he has found ample opportunity for labor in the
literary field, and in the latter, as in the former, his efforts have been extensive, successful, and most valuable.
This rare combination, coupled with persevering industry, sound judgment, quick perceptions, great force of character,
and high purpose, have made him a leader in the community in which he has always lived, and which he has served
so faithfully and well.
Mr. Baxter was born in Gorham, Me., in 1831. His father, Doctor Baxter, moved to Portland in 1840, and engaged
in the practice of medicine. The son was put under the tutorship of Master Jackson, where he remained four years,
then taking a two years' course at the Lynn Academy. He then returned to Portland and studied at the old Portland
Academy, supplementing his education with private lessons in Latin, French, Spanish, and German.
Having completed his studies he engaged in business with William G. Davis, and in 1861, when the canning business
was in its infancy, the two partners united with the firm of Rumery & Burnham, in the Portland Packing Company.
The former firm soon sold out, and under the efficient managemew. of Messrs. Baxter and Davis the business has
assumed the vast proportions that have made the company well-known throughout the world. Other great business operations
have also claimed his attention in all of which he has been uniformly successful and in which he has acquired a
His great business ability and sound judgment have commended him to some of the leading linancial institutions
of the city, and he is Trustee of the Portland Savings Bank, Vice-President of the Merchants National Bank, and
Director in the Portland Trust Company. He is also Director of Maine Industrial School, President of the Portland
Provident Association, Director of the Portland Benevolent Society, and President of the Maine Historical Society
and Portland Public Library. Mr. Baxter was elected Mayor of Portland the present year, 1893, and early in his
administration he generously donated his official salary to the School Board to establish a Manual Training School
for Boys. His charities in the past have been both bountiful and frequent, the most notable of which is his gift
to the City of Portland of the beautiful Public Library Building, which stands as a monument to his generosity
and to his artistic and literary taste. He also founded the Associated Charities in his city as a result of his
interest in the Little Wanderers' Home in Boston.
In literature, Mr. Baxter's favorite study, his labor of love is found in historical research, and during the last
fifteen years his labors in this field have been most active and valuable. He has prepared and published nearly
a dozen volumes, principally relating to the early settlement and history of Maine and New England, much of the
data for some of which he procured during a prolonged visit to Europe in 1885. Mr. Baxter now has one or two volumes
in hand, one of which, perhaps, will prove to be the most important of all his works. It is entitled "English
Pioneers in the New World." In the preparation of this volume he has given much time to research and devoted
great study to its thorough compilation. He has also written several poems of recognized merit, the latest of which
is entitled "The Observatory," but recently published.
In politics, Mr. Baxter has been a Republican, though never an offensive partisan, but always broad minded and
liberal. His whole career has been entirely honorable and successful, and he has made a record alike creditable
to himself, his city, and his State.