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This Day In Founding Fathers History – 12 February 2013

One notable birthday on this day in history in 1791, that of Peter Cooper. Cooper was an inventor, philanthropist, and one-time candidate for President. Cooper was always a tinkerer and worked many types of jobs in his early years. At age 30, Cooper bought a glue factory, building a profitable business and developing new production methods for glues, cements, gelatin and other products. Expecting land prices to increase due to the proposed B&O Railroad, Cooper bought 3,000 acres of land in Maryland. As he developed the land, he discovered it was rich in iron ore. Knowing railroad construction and iron go hand in hand, he build the Canton Iron Works in Baltimore. The first steam locomotive, the Tom Thumb, was Cooper’s handiwork, which helped promote investment in the railroad and further profits for him. Cooper owned numerous patents for his inventions and was constantly innovating. Cooper continued diversifying, investing in real estate and insurance, making him one of the richest men in New York City. Despite his fortune, Cooper lived relatively modestly. 1

Another birthday on this day in 1663, that of Cotton Mather, Puritan minister and author. Mather entered Harvard at the age of 12, devoting himself to study and prayer. He received his degree at age 18 and went on to preach in both his father and grandfather’s churches. His formal ordination came in 1685. Mather was an avid writer. One work, Essays to Do Good, instructed on humanitarian acts, with some ideas well ahead of their time. Mather was one to caution judges not to use “spectre evidence” in witchcraft trials. Mather fought for the use of the smallpox inoculation even after his son nearly died from it and several other family members suffered severe illness and even death. Mather had an interest in science and his work Curiosa Americana earned him a membership in the Royal Society of London. Mather wrote more than 400 works in his lifetime, on subjects ranging from history to religion to science.

1 “Peter Cooper,” Wikipedia
2 “Mather, Cotton,”


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