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Peter Cooper

Inventor and Manufacturer,
Builder of First Practical U.S. Locomotive

Peter Cooper was one of the most innovative and resourceful of the early American manufacturers. He progressed from hat making to brewing to shearing machines to food sales to glue making to ironworks, blast furnaces, and rolling mills. He was elected to Fortune magazine's all time American Business Hall of Fame. ■ Peter Cooper was born February 12, 1791, in New York City of Scottish ancestry. Both grandfathers Campbell and Cooper fought in the Revolutionary War. ■ In 1830 with his own design, he built the first practical steam locomotive made in America. He was used by the Baltimore and Ohio railroad and saved that line from bankruptcy. ■ Cooper bought his own iron mines to feed his blast furnaces and rolling mills. He produced the first iron structural beams. He manufactured the wire and joined Cyrus Field in laying the first transatlantic cable. He also advanced the money for completion of the cable. ■ Cooper was the first to use the Bessemer steel making process in the U.S. and in 1879 he was honored by the Iron and Steel Institute of Great Britain with the Bessemer Gold Medal. ■ He was nominated for President of the United States by the Greenback Party in 1876. He served as president and board member in various banking, insurance, and industrial association. During his business career he strived for more efficient methods and introduced many innovations. ■ Cooper left several million dollars to the Cooper Union he founded in 1859 for the advancement of science and the vocational education of youth. ■ He died October 4, 1883 in New York City. In 1900 New York University elected him to the Hall of Fame of Great Americans.

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