He was America's first public philanthropist. He built the first steam locomotive. He invented Jello. He was one of the handful of men who were responsible for the first transatlantic cable. He put the first elevator shaft in a building (and did it before the elevator was invented!). He was the Bill Gates of his day.Wikipedia entry about Peter Cooper here.
Peter Cooper was born in New York in 1791. (George Washington was in his first term as president.) He died in 1883. He was one of the greatest American capitalists of the 19th century, but what made him unique was his original and compassionate notion that, having made a great fortune, he needed to give much of it back to the community in which he lived. Born in modest means, he routinely gave his money to institutions and causes for the poor and for poltical reform. In 1876, at the age of 85, he ran for president of the United States as the nominee of the National Independent Party, He received only 1% of the vote, but many of his then radical ideas later became the standards of public policy today.
Cooper Union College website here.
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