Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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GOWEN, Franklin Benja, min, railroad manager, born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 9 February, 1836. He was educated at Emmitsburg, Maryland, and in a Moravian school at Litiz, Pennsylvania In 1858 he entered into the business of mining coal, which he soon abandoned, and began the study of the law. He was admitted to the bar in 1860, and began practice in Schuylkill, rising to distinction in his profession. In 1862 he was elected district-attorney of Schuylkill County. On resuming his general practice at the bar, he was retained as counsel for the Philadelphia and Reading railroad, and of the Girard coal-trusts, in connection with their large interests in the mining region. In 1869 he was chosen to the presidency of the former company, and filled the office until 1881, when because of opposition to his plans for the relief of the finances of the road he failed of a re-election. But he was again chosen in 1882. In 1872 he was elected a member of the Constitutional convention of Pennsylvania, and in this body ranked as one of its ablest members. Mr. Gowen conceived and established the Philadelphia and Reading coal and iron company, which is probably the largest land and raining company ever organized in this country. To him is also due the honor of being the one who conceived and put in operation the movement against the famous organization known as the "Mollie Maguires," which had produced a reign of terror in the coal region, extending over a period of twenty years, and which the ordinary machinery of the law had been unable to suppress. In the trials which followed this movement in 1876, Mr. Gowen was one of the counsel for the commonwealth. He is an orator of force and eloquence, and has been eminent as a financier and railroad manager. His argument in the case of the "State vs. Thomas Munley (one of the Molly Maguire trials) has been published (Pottsville, Pennsylvania, 1876).
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