JOHN MURRAY FORBES Biography - Bussiness people and enterpreneurs


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John Murray Forbes                                                                           
Born February 23, 1813                                                                       
Bordeaux, France                                                                             
Died October 12, 1898 (aged 85)                                                             
John Murray Forbes (February 23, 1813 - October 12, 1898) was an American                   
railroad magnate and abolitionist. He was president of both the Michigan Central             
railroad and the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad in the 1850s.                       
Forbes was born in Bordeaux, France. His parents were Ralph Bennet Forbes and               
Margaret Perkins, youngest daughter of the Perkins family, a merchant banking               
family in the China trade. The Forbes family settled in Milton, Massachusetts,               
where his father was an energetic but unsuccessful businessman who died when                 
John was only six.                                                                           
Forbes attended school at Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, then at               
Round Hill School in Northampton, Massachusetts, from 1823-28. He was one of                 
three brothers sent by their uncle to Canton, and achieved some financial                   
success during a short time spent trading in Canton. However, unlike his brother             
Robert Bennet Forbes who devoted himself to the China trade, Forbes returned to             
Boston and became an early railroad investor and landowner.                                 
As with Jay Gould and E. H. Harriman, Forbes was an important figure in the                 
building of America's railroad system. From March 28, 1846 through 1855, he was             
president of Michigan Central Railroad, and he was a director and president of               
the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad, he helped with the growth of the               
American Middle West.                                                                       
He supplied money and weapons to New Englanders to fight slavery in Kansas and               
in 1859 entertained John Brown. In 1860 he was an elector for Abraham Lincoln.               
Staunchly pro-Union, he is given credit for founding the New England Loyal                   
Publication Society in early 1863 (Smith 1948). A delegate to the Republican                 
conventions of 1876, 1880 and 1884, he eventually became displeased with the                 
Republican party and worked successfully to get Democrat Grover Cleveland                   
elected President.                                                                           
Forbes's many philanthropic activities included the re-establishment of Milton               
Academy, a preparatory school south of Boston, Massachusetts in 1884.                       
Edward Waldo Emerson, Ralph Waldo Emerson's son, published Forbes biography in               
the September 1899 issue of "Atlantic" magazine. The Emerson and Forbes families             
were close. John Murray's son, William Hathaway Forbes, married Ralph's daughter,           
Edith Emerson. In Letters and Social Aims, Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote of Forbes:             
"Never was such force, good meaning, good sense, good action, combined with such             
domestic lovely behavior, such modesty and persistent preference for others.                 
Wherever he moved he was the benefactor... How little this man suspects, with               
his sympathy for men and his respect for lettered and scientific people, that he             
is not likely, in any company, to meet a man superior to himself," and "I think             
this is a good country that can bear such a creature as he."                                 
His cousin Francis Blackwell Forbes(1839-1908) is the great-grandfather of 2004             
U.S. Democratic presidential candidate John Forbes Kerry. His eldest son,                   
William Hathaway Forbes (1840-1897) became the first president of the American               
Telephone and Telegraph Company.