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Lawrence, Amos

1786 - 1852

Amos Lawrence was one of the most important merchants and manufacturers in New England, but he spent most of his adult life as a retiring invalid. Born in Groton, Massachusetts, in 1786 to a Revolutionary War veteran, he grew up on his father's farm. As a young teenager, he manifested an interest in the dry goods trade, working first as a clerk in Dunstable and in Groton, and eventually opening his own Boston store in 1807. With his brother Abbott he came to dominate the local dry-goods trade, and by 1828 the two had significant investments in the burgeoning textile mills at Lowell, Massachusetts. Of fragile health throughout his life, Lawrence became permanently indisposed in 1831, when he was seized with a violent stomach illness. Thereafter he retired from business, nursing his broken consititution, placing himself on a severely restricted diet, and concentrating on his philanthropic projects, for which he won renown. Lawrence is credited with giving away more than a half-million dollars. Although his donations were widespread, he was particularly generous to temperance and antitobacco movements, the Bunker Hill Monument project in Boston, Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, and Williams College. He died in 1852. (Kelly et al. 1996, 254, 256)
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