Peter Cooper (1791-1883) – Industrialist, Inventor, Philanthropist
Peter Cooper was an American industrialist who developed a cloth-shearing machine, and he built the first steam locomotive in the United States. In 1812, Cooper purchased a glue factory where he developed new ways to produce glues and cements, gelatin, and other products, and became New York City’s premiere provider to tanners, manufacturers of paints and dry-good merchants. He had served as head of the Public School Society, a private organization which ran New York City’s free schools using city money, when it began evening classes in 1848. Cooper conceived of the idea of having a free institute in New York which would offer free practical education to adults in the mechanical arts and science, to help prepare young men and women for success in business. In 1853, Cooper broke ground for the Cooper Union for Advancement of Science and Art, a private college in New York, completing the building in 1859 at a cost of $600,000. Cooper Union offered open-admission night classes available to men and women alike, and attracted 2,000 responses to its initial offering. The classes were non-sectarian, and women were treated equally with men, although 95% of the students were male. Cooper started a Women’s School of Design, which offered daytime courses in engraving, lithography, painting on china and drawing. Today Cooper Union is recognized as one of the leading American colleges in the fields of architecture, engineering, and art. Carrying on with Peter Cooper’s belief that college education should be free, the Cooper Union awards all its students with a full scholarship.
We honor Peter Cooper because his philanthropic work makes him a Legacy Champ. If you want to be a Legacy Champ in your own special way, then contact The Mendel Law Firm, L.P. for a free initial consultation on estate planning, trust planning, and/or probate issues.