Peter Cooper Biography

Peter Cooper

engineer, manufacturer, philanthropist
Born: 2/12/1791
Birthplace: New York City, N.Y.

Having started his career making glue and isinglass, he and two partners began an iron works company in Baltimore in 1829, called the Canton Iron Works, where he built the first steam locomotive in the U.S. He later was involved in the telegraph company that laid the first transatlantic cable, and himself developed the first iron for fireproof buildings and invented the first washing machine. He used his wealth to found the Cooper Union (now the Cooper Institute) in New York City in 1859 to educate working-class adults in art and science. He was the Greenback Party's candidate for president in 1876, garnering 80,000 votes.

Died: 4/4/1883