Thomas Handasyd Perkins – One of Boston’s most successful merchants, Thomas Handasyd Perkins (1764-1854) began as a slave trader out of Haiti and then shipped Turkish opium to China for fine silks and crockery. A model of respectability at home, he supported the Boston Athenaeum and a school for the blind, still known as the Perkins School. Seeing the success of the textile mills, he invested in the Appleton and other companies in Lowell.
Amos Lawrence and Abbott Lawrence – Although their fortune was derived from the sale of imported goods, when Groton, Massachusetts natives Amos (above, 1786-1852) and Abbott Lawrence (below) discovered the quality of the cloth made by the Merrimack Manufacturing Company, they became sales agents of locally produced cotton and woolen goods. Convinced by Nathan Appleton to invest, the Lawrence brothers became major stockholders in the Tremont and Suffolk Mills and established their own Lawrence Mills which by 1900 was the world’s largest producer of hosiery. Abbott Lawrence (1792-1855) entered politics to advocate tariffs against imports and to champion “the true interests of our own people.” He served in the US House of Representatives and also as American ambassador to Great Britain. On April 17, 1845 Abbott Lawrence established the Essex Company to build a new industrial city further along the Merrimack River, named Lawrence in his honor.
Erastus Bigelow (1814 to 1879) – A native of West Boylston, Massachusetts, Erastus Bigelow built a prototype carpet weaving machine in 1837 that revolutionized carpet making in America. In 1899, the Bigelow Carpet Company of Clinton, Massachusetts purchased the Lowell Manufacturing Company which had been an early user of Bigelow’s technology and produced carpeting there until 1917 when the mill was converted to the manufacturing of small arms ammunition by the U.S. government. Today’s National Historical Park visitor center is located in one of the Lowell Manufacturing Company buildings.