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Peter Cooper
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Philanthropist
    (February 12, 1791-April 4, 1883)
    Born in New York City, New York
    American manufacturer, industrialist, civic affairs leader, and inventor
    At one time, among the richest men in New York City
    Started out operating a New York and Trenton-based iron rolling mill
    Made the bulk of his wealth operating a successful glue factory in Gowanda, New York
    Also produced neat's foot oil, isinglass, and gelatin
    Invested glue profits in Manhattan real estate, the value of which soared soon after (later reinvested in and expanded his company)
    Designed and built the first American steam locomotive, The Tom Thumb
    Founded the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in Manhattan, New York City
    Active in the Indian Reform movement; organized the non-profit organization, the United States Indian Commission, in the 1860s
    Candidate for President of the United States in the 1876 Presidential election, representing the Greenback Party, losing to Rutherford B. Hayes
    Co-founder of the Children's Village, originally called the 'New York Juvenile Asylum,' one of the oldest non-profit organizations in the United States
    Addresses, letters and articles on public affairs compiled into 'Ideas for a Science of Good Government' (1883)
    Namesake for the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, founded by his children, in 1895 (later became a Smithsonian Institution unit)
    He could pass as an ancestor of Bernie Sanders.
    The press dubbed him 'the self-made millionaire glue boiler.'
    He was a scatter-brained eccentric who kept no formal books.
    He allegedly believed that banks and bankers were the spawn of Satan.
    He was a stern critic of the gold standard and the country's entire monetary system of bank currency, which he characterized as debt-ridden.
    Sternly criticizing usury and bank loans during the depression from 1873-1878, he called for a 'credit-based, Government-issued currency of United States Notes.'
    He was the patriarch of a political dynasty; both his son and son-in-law would serve as the Mayor of New York.
    New York political cartoonists made hay of his sons' ties to a figure they deemed a backwards, senile madcap/eccentric. (Puck Magazine depicting Cooper taking his son, Mayor Edward Cooper, to his knee and spanking him vociferously.)
    At 85 years of age, he remains the oldest person ever nominated by any political party during an American Presidential election.
    He was an early anti-slavery advocate.
    He was influenced by Lydia Maria Child.
    He was arguably America's first 'munificent philanthropist.'
    He was the first industrialist to successfully use anthracite coal to puddle iron.
    He was the original patent owner for a gelatin product that was later appropriated by a cough syrup company (his wife named it 'Jell-O').
    Unlike Andrew Carnegie, his charity work came off as neither opportunistic, fake, nor condescending.
    He lived a comparably simple lifestyle during a time when the rich were indulging in extravagant luxury.
    He continued to live at the same humble New York neighborhood address even after he made his wealth, continuing to dress simply and limiting his household to only two servants.
    Alice Provensen called him 'an honest man' and 'the anomaly of the Gilded Age.'
    He sponsored the meetings of Indian tribal delegations with officials in Washington, D.C., New York City, and other Eastern cities.
    His efforts led to the formation of the Board of Indian Commissioners, under the administration of President Ulysses S. Grant.
    He said 'the production of wealth is not the work of any one man, and the acquisition of great fortunes is not possible without the cooperation of multitudes of men; and... therefor the individuals to whose lot these fortunes fall... should never lose sight of the fact that, as they hold them by the will of society expressed in statute law , so they should administer them as trustees for the benefit of society as inculcated by moral law.'

Credit: BoyWiththeGreenHair


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