1738–1836, American manufacturer and philanthropist, b. Providence, R.I. He was associated with his brothers John, Joseph, and Nicholas in the family's mercantile activities before establishing (1790), with Samuel Slater
, the first water-powered cotton mill in the United States. Brown, who became a Quaker in the early 1770s, was also a pioneering abolitionist
. Largely because of his influence, Rhode Island College (later renamed Brown Univ.
in honor of his nephew Nicholas) was moved in 1770 from Warren to Providence. Brown contributed generously to the college. Moses Brown School in Providence, a leading preparatory institution for boys, was established (1819) by Quakers on land donated by him.
See biography by M. Thompson (1962); C. Rappleye, Sons of Providence: The Brown Brothers, the Slave Trade, and the American Revolution (2006).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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