The Info List - George Foster Peabody

George Foster Peabody
George Foster Peabody
(July 27, 1852 – March 4, 1938) was an American banker and philanthropist.


1 Early life 2 Business career 3 Social activism 4 Political activities 5 Philanthropic activities 6 Warm Springs, Georgia 7 Honorary degrees 8 George Foster Peabody
George Foster Peabody
Awards 9 Personal life 10 References 11 Further reading 12 External links

Early life[edit] He was born to George Henry Peabody and Elvira Peabody (née Canfield) as the first of four children.[1] Both parents were native New Englanders of colonial ancestry. George Henry Peabody, who came from a line of merchants, bankers and professional men, had moved from Connecticut to Columbus, Georgia, where he ran a prosperous general store. After attending private school in Columbus, young Peabody spent a few months at Deer Hill Institute in Danbury, Connecticut. The Civil War, however, impoverished his family, and in 1866 they moved to Brooklyn, New York, and young Peabody went to work as an errand boy.[2] Business career[edit] In the evenings Peabody read extensively at the library of the Brooklyn
Y.M.C.A., which he later called his "alma mater", and also took part in the activities of the Reformed Church in Brooklyn Heights, where he met and became good friends with young investment banker Spencer Trask. On May 2, 1881, Peabody became a partner in the new firm of Spencer Trask
Spencer Trask
& Company. During the 1880s and 1890s this investment house took a leading part in financing electric lighting corporations, sugar beet and other industrial enterprises, and railroad construction in the western United States
United States
and Mexico. Peabody himself handled most of the firm's railroad investments, working in close association with William J. Palmer. He also became a director in numerous corporations. Peabody, his brother Charles Jones Peabody and Spencer Trask
Spencer Trask
amassed a great portion of their wealth from the Edison Electric Company. Trask served as president of Edison Electric Illuminating, and when J. P. Morgan—protégé of New England businessman/philanthropist George Peabody—financier of Edison Electric, merged all into the General Electric
General Electric
Company in 1892, George Foster Peabody
George Foster Peabody
became a member of the GE board of directors. Social activism[edit] Peabody retired from business in 1906 to pursue a life of public service.[3] Long interested in social causes, he supported such progressive ideas as the single tax as advocated by Henry George
Henry George
in his book Progress and Poverty, free trade, women's suffrage and government ownership of railroads. He was active in the anti-war movement and also interested in education, particularly in the South and particularly for African-Americans. He served as director of the General Education Board, treasurer of the Southern Education Board and on the boards of trustees of the American Church Institute for Negroes, Hampton in Virginia, Tuskegee University
Tuskegee University
in Alabama, the University of Georgia, and the Brooklyn
Polytechnic Institute. Political activities[edit] From early in his life Peabody was interested in Democratic Party politics. In the early 1880s, he helped his close friend Edward M. Shepard organize the Young Men's Democratic Club of Brooklyn, took a part in the 1892 presidential campaign on behalf of Grover Cleveland, supported the Gold Democrats
Gold Democrats
against William Jennings Bryan
William Jennings Bryan
in 1896, then switched to more moderate monetary reform as a member of the executive committee of the Indianapolis Monetary Convention in 1897. In 1904 and 1905 he served as treasurer of the Democratic National Committee. Although he declined to run for political office, and declined President Wilson's offer of a place on the Federal Trade Commission, Peabody was an unofficial counselor to many government officials. From 1914 to 1921 he served on the board of directors of the Federal Reserve Bank
Federal Reserve Bank
in New York. In June 1932 Franklin Delano Roosevelt, then Governor of New York, visited Peabody for advice and support in deciding to run for President of the United States. Philanthropic activities[edit] Peabody served from 1884 to 1930 as a trustee of Hampton University, one of Virginia's historically black universities, where he established in the university library the Peabody Collection of rare materials on African-American history, one of the largest collections in the United States.[4] In 1901 Peabody donated land for Peabody Park at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.[5] Warm Springs, Georgia[edit] After years of visiting the estate of his partner Spencer Trask
Spencer Trask
in Saratoga Springs, New York
Saratoga Springs, New York
Peabody agreed to succeed him in 1910 as chairman of the state commission set up to purchase and conserve the famous spa there, and in 1923 he acquired the property at Warm Springs, Georgia near his boyhood home. In 1924 he invited his friend Franklin Delano Roosevelt
Franklin Delano Roosevelt
(who had recently contracted a paralytic illness) to visit the 90 degree Fahrenheit springs there, which Roosevelt eventually purchased and turned into the Little White House and the Roosevelt Warm Springs Institute for Rehabilitation, expanding it from a limited rehab center into a full-service center. Honorary degrees[edit] While his formal education was limited and he had no college degree, Peabody received honorary degrees from Harvard and Washington and Lee Universities in 1903, and the University of Georgia
University of Georgia
in 1906. This latter institution was the recipient of much of Peabody's philanthropy, including funds to build a fireproof building to house the university's library. He also donated land to help reorganize the State College of Agriculture, and founded the university's School of Forestry. George Foster Peabody
George Foster Peabody
Awards[edit] Perhaps Peabody's best-known legacy is the George Foster Peabody Awards, presented annually since 1941 by the University of Georgia's Henry W. Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication
Henry W. Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication
for excellence in radio, and, since 1948, television broadcasting, followed by World Wide Web
World Wide Web
content in the late 1990s. Personal life[edit] A tall man, in later years he developed a mane of white hair, and wore a heavy mustache and pointed beard, becoming known for his dignified and courtly manner. He maintained a mansion in Brooklyn, where he entertained lavishly. He also purchased a summer home known as Abenia at Lake George, where he spent most of each year. He was frequently a guest at Yaddo, the Saratoga Springs estate of Spencer Trask
Spencer Trask
and his wife, Katrina Trask, and from both estates he developed a wide circle of influence, including many persons from the literary world, church, business, and government, who came to enjoy his gracious hospitality. A longtime bachelor, in 1920, eleven years after Trask's death in a railroad accident, Peabody married his widow Katrina, and they lived at Yaddo
until her death in 1922. Thereafter Yaddo
became a great retreat for artists. Peabody continued to live on the estate, and in 1926 he adopted a daughter, Mrs. Marjorie P. Waite, a young woman whom he had come to know in connection with his civic and humanitarian activities and who aided him in them. Peabody died in 1938 at his home in Warm Springs, Georgia
Warm Springs, Georgia
and is buried at Yaddo.[6] References[edit]

^ Ware, Louise (2009). George Foster Peabody: Banker, Philanthropist, Publicist. University of Georgia
University of Georgia
Press. p. 1. ISBN 978-0820334561.  ^ Washington, Booker T. (1974). Kaufman, Stuart; Smock, Raymond W.; Harlan, Louis R., eds. The Booker T. Washington Papers: 1889-95. University of Illinois Press. p. 86. ISBN 978-0252004100.  ^ Anderson, Eric; Moss, Alfred A. (1999). Dangerous Donations: Northern Philanthropy and Southern Black Education, 1902-1930. University of Missouri Press. p. 111. ISBN 978-0826264169.  ^ Zaki, Hoda M. (2006). Civil Rights and Politics at Hampton Institute: The Legacy of Alonzo G. Moron (1st ed.). University of Illinois Press. p. 16. ISBN 978-0252031106.  ^ " Peabody Park History". Uncg.edu. Archived from the original on January 30, 2015. Retrieved 2014-07-27.  ^ "George Foster Peabody". findagrave.com. Retrieved November 24, 2016. 

Further reading[edit]

David T. Beito and Linda Royster Beito, " Gold Democrats
Gold Democrats
and the Decline of Classical Liberalism, 1896-1900," Independent Review 4 (Spring 2000), 555-75. Dorothy Orr. (1950). A History of Education in Georgia. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press. Ware, Louise (1951). George Foster Peabody : banker, philanthropist, publicist. Athens: University of Georgia
University of Georgia
Press. ISBN 9780820334561. Retrieved 20 February 2018.  Who Was Who in America, Volume I: 1897–1942 (Chicago, 1942).

External links[edit]

George Foster Peabody
George Foster Peabody
(1852–1938) and Peabody Park at UNCG - A biographical excerpt written by Louise Ware in the Dictionary of American Biography (23: 520–521, 1958)

Authority control

WorldCat Identities VIAF: 11317869 LCCN: n86001727 SN