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Edward Knight Collins

Born: 1802
Birthplace: Truro, Mass.

Collins began working in the shipping business at age 15 in New York City, and bought his first shipping line in 1831. Five years later, he launched the Dramatic Line, a transatlantic carrier whose ships were named after actors. He garnered a Congressional subsidy in 1847 and formed the United States Mail Steamship Company to compete with Britain's Cunard. Though his ships proved faster than Cunard's, the subsidy was canceled in 1856 after two of the five ships sank, one carrying Collins's wife and children. He sold the remaining U.S. Mail Steamship Company ships in 1858 and worked in the coal and iron industry in Ohio.

Died: 1878

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