a digital library of Unitarian Universalist biographies, history, books, and media
the digital library of Unitarian Universalism
Home » Biographies » Cooper, Peter (1791-1883)

Cooper, Peter (1791-1883)

Peter Cooper

Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-11083).

Born in New York City, this inventor, manufacturer, and philanthropist had only one year of formal education. After being apprenticed to a coachmaker, he made machines for shearing cloth and then perfected and patented a cloth-cutter which he manufactured. When he purchased a glue factory and improved its quality, that became a source of his wealth. Also after purchasing a plot on the Baltimore harbor front, he discovered rich iron ore on the property, then founded the Canton Iron Works, which increased his fortune.

Peter Cooper designed the first steam locomotive built in America and called it “Tom Thumb.”

He and Cyrus Field laid the first Atlantic cable.

He became the president of the North American Telegraph Company, which controlled most U.S. telegraph lines.

Peter Cooper fought for free public schools and vigorously opposed the use of public funds to support Roman Catholic schools.

He ran unsuccessfully for president of the United States.

He is best remembered as the founder of the Cooper Union in New York City, a school long celebrated for featuring free courses in the arts and sciences.

Cooper and his family were members of All Souls Unitarian Church, New York.

Notable in UU History
Universalist Church Convention Pasadena CA July 1915

The Universalist Convention of 1915: Introduction

One hundred years ago, the United Universalist Conventions met in Pasadena, California, for their 1915 convention ... Read More

Diann Neu: Blessed Be Our Hands

Blessed be the work of our hands. Blessed be these hands that touch life. Blessed be ... Read More

Whittemore, Thomas (1800-1861)

A man with a remarkably varied career as minister, publisher, musician, politician and bank president, Whittemore ... Read More

Mr. Hilliard

The Reverend TIMOTHY HILLIARD was born in Kensington, New-Hampshire, in 1746; and, in 1760, entered Harvard ... Read More