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Henry Burden

Manufacturer. Inventor. Builder. Innovator and Philanthropist

Henry Burden was one of the early aggressive entrepreneurs who laid the foundation for America's industrial greatness ■ He was born April 20, 1791, in Dunblane, Scotland, the son of a sheep farmer. He was educated at an engineering school in Edinburgh, and returned to the farm making implements and a water wheel to power them. ■ He decided to emigrate to America and shortly after his arrival in 1819, he was busy making farm tools and machinery. He built his own ironworks and in 1820 invented the first cultivator patented in this country. In 1822 he went to Troy, New York, where he took over management of a plant that eventually became Burden's Ironworks. ■ Burden became closely allied with the task of supplying the iron needed by the nation's rapidly expanding railroads. It was a time when new ideas and products were welcome and encouraged. He experimented in many lines, not only in the manufacture of items like horseshoes and spikes but also in the production of machines to make these and other things. ■ He was interested in steam navigation and organized a company to produce ships of as much as 18,000 tons to transport hundreds of passengers across the Atlantic in 6 to 10 days. ■ As his fortune grew, Burden became interested in philanthropy. He gave generously to many charitable enterprises and institutions. He died at Troy, New York, January 19, 1871. Burden was one of that rare breed of American immigrants who saw opportunity in America and took advantage of it. America and Burden both profited by the association. ■ His son James Burden was an outstanding successor to his father as an inventor and management of his father's business.

Wayne Rethford, President Emeritus
Illinois Saint Andrew Society
Scottish-American History Club
2800 Des Plaines Avenue
North Riverside, IL 60546