Cooper, Peter (1), Lld
Cooper, Peter (1), LL.D.
a notable American citizen and philanthropist, was born in the city of New York, February 12, 1791. His early education was confined to one year's schooling. He learned the trade of a hatter with his father, continued at this employment until he was seventeen years of age and then found a position in a grocery store at twenty-five dollars a year. When he was of age he went to Hempstead, L.I., and worked in a woollen factory, then returned to New York and opened a grocery store. After this he changed his business five times, and finally commenced the manufacture of glue and isinglass, and exerted himself in the development of iron, and railroad and telegraph interests. Ultimately he employed in his various business engagements upwards of two hundred and fifty hands, not one of whom ever went unpaid. In all the panics and business failures in New York his finances were firm, and his wealth increased with his years, which may be attributed to his engaging in no hazardous speculations. When a young man, he conceived the idea of establishing an industrial school of science and art for indigent young men who were obliged to depend upon their own resources, and he established the Cooper Union in New York city, open for instruction in all branches of science and art. He resolved, wisely, to be the executor of his own estate, and see the fruits of his liberality. Yearly three thousand students receive gratuitous education in its halls. He contributed to the building and endowment of the institute nearly one million dollars. He died April 4.1883, wealthy and honored. See N.Y. Observer, April 12, 1883; Drake, Dict. of Amer. Biog. s.v.; Men of the Time, s.v.; Autobiography (N.Y. 1877). (W.P.S.)