The Life & Times of Francis Cabot Lowell

Last night I traveled to the Needham Public Library to hear Chaim “Mike” Rosenberg talk about his new book, “The Life and Times of Francis Cabot Lowell, 1775-1817.” Lowell is the man for whom our city is named, although he died (at age 42) before the city was even founded. Lowell is credited with being the father of the modern factory system in America. Although he made his fortune as an importer of goods made elsewhere, Lowell came to realize that for a country to be great, it must manufacture things for itself. His first mill, in Waltham, was a great success although the Charles River was limited in its ability to generate hydro power. Lowell’s partners soon discovered East Chelmsford and the Merrimack River which drops 55 feet in just one-third of a mile. But for Lowell’s untimely death, he would have overseen the development of this famous mill town and our community would have another name. When he died, however, his friends and associates thought it proper to name this new community for him.

Dr. Rosenberg is a wonderful speaker who clearly immersed himself in his material. He placed Lowell’s accomplishments in the larger context of American and world history and even related them to our financial plight of today. I found Dr. Rosenberg’s in depth knowledge of the extended Lowell family fascinating. He will be visiting the Pollard Memorial Library in September to give a similar talk. In the coming days I’ll share more of my thoughts about this lecture and the book.