Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
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LOW, Abiel Abbot, merchant, born in Salem, Massachusetts, 7 February, 1811. He was educated in the public schools, early became a clerk in a mercantile house, and subsequently for several years was with his father, who was an importer of drugs and India goods in New York city, and had resided in Brooklyn, New York, since 1829. In 1833 he sailed for Canton, China, where he became a partner in an American mercantile house in 1837. Three years later he returned home and engaged in the China tea and silk trade. As his business increased he built many of his own ships, he was made a member of the New York chamber of commerce in 1846, and in 1863 was elected its president, holding the office until the close of 1866, when he resigned. He was frequently called upon to address the chamber and other bodies, or to consult with the government at Washington in relation to commercial or financial interests, and his voice and influence were always decided and powerful in support of the plighted faith of the nation. During the war he was treasurer of the Union defence committee of New York, a member of the war fund committee of Brooklyn, and president of the general committee of citizens in Brooklyn that was appointed in aid of the sanitary service. Mr. Low has been for many years president of the board of trustees of the Packer institute. He has contributed gifts to the Brooklyn library, the City hospital, and many other educational, benevolent, and religious enterprises.--His son, Seth, merchant, born in Brooklyn, New York, 18 January, 1850, was graduated at Columbia in 1870, became a clerk in his father's mercantile house, and in 1875 was admitted as a partner. He was elected a member of the New York chamber of commerce, and made addresses on the carrying trade and related subjects, which commanded attention. Mr. Low was a founder of the Brooklyn bureau of charities and its first president, and at the same time he began to take part in political reform. He was nominated for the mayoralty in 1881 as a reform candidate, and, being elected by a decisive majority, gained much praise by his administration of the city government. He was the first mayor in the state to introduce the system of competitive examination for appointments to municipal offices. He was re-elected in 1883, and served for another term of two years. Shortly after his retirement from office he went abroad, and on his return resumed his commercial occupations.
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