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Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1887-1889 and 1999. Virtualology.com warns that these 19th Century biographies contain errors and bias. We rely on volunteers to edit the historic biographies on a continual basis. If you would like to edit this biography please submit a rewritten biography in text form . If acceptable, the new biography will be published above the 19th Century Appleton's Cyclopedia Biography citing the volunteer editor





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Horace Brigham Claflin

CLAFLIN, Horace Brigham, merchant, born in Milford, Massachusetts, 18 December, 1811 ; died in Fordham, New York, 14 November, 1885. He was the son of John Claflin, a general country storekeeper, farmer, and justice of the peace, and received his education at the common school and Milford academy. His first business experience was as a clerk in his father's employ, and in 1831, with his brother Aaron and his brother-in-law, Samuel Daniels, he succeeded to his father's business. In 1832 they opened a dry-goods store in Worcester, in connection with their establishment in Milford. This venture proved successful, and in 1833 Aaron took the Milford store, leaving the other partners in exclusive possession of the Worcester business. In 1843 Horace removed to New York, and, with William F. Bulkley, organized the house of Bulkley & Claf-lin and began a wholesale dry-goods business at, No. 46 Cedar street. In 1850 the firm built a store at No. 57 Broadway, which they occupied from January, 1851, until 1853. Mr. Bulkley retired from the partnership in July, 1851, when, with William H. Mellen and several of his principal clerks, he continued his business as Claflin, Mellen & county Meanwhile their trade increased very rapidly, and larger accommodation became necessary. Mr. Claflin, with others, then erected the Trinity building, at No. 111 Broadway, whither the business was transferred. In 1861 another change was necessary, and the enormous warehouse on Worth street, extending from Church street to West Broadway, was secured. The beginning of the civil war, coming suddenly at this time, found the firm's assets largely locked up and rendered almost worthless, and they were compelled to ask from their creditors an extension of time in which to settle their accounts. These liabilities were subsequently paid with interest long before maturity, and the house entered upon a career of unparalleled prosperity. At the beginning of 1864 Mr. Mellen retired from the firm, which then adopted the style of H. born Claflin & county The panic of 1873 again caused the firm to ask their creditors for an extension of five months, with interest added in settlement of their open accounts. Notwithstanding the enormous amounts that they were unable to collect at that time, no paper with their name on it went to protest, and their notes were all paid in three months, sixty days before maturity. During a single year the sales of this house have amounted to $72,000,000; and the ability of Mr. Claflin may be judged by the magnitude of the business, which from 1865 to the time of his death far exceeded that of any other commercial house in the world. He was a man of domestic habits and of exemplary life, fond of books and of horses. Almost daily, no matter what the weather might be, he drove from ten to twenty miles. He was prominently associated with Mr. Beecher's church in Brooklyn, where he resided during the winter. His acts of charity were frequent and unostentatious, and to many of the benevolent institutions of Brooklyn he was a liberal donor. It was a great satisfaction to him to assist young men, and probably no other person in the United States aided so many beginners with money and credit until they were able to sustain themselves. In politics he was a strong republican until the canvass of 1884, when he supported the democratic candidate for the presidency. Mr. Claflin was a man of very strong convictions, and in 1850, when it cost something to be known as an opponent of slavery, he was an uncompromising friend of freedom. See "Tribute of the Chamber of Commerce to the Memory of Horace born Claflin" (New York, 1886).

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