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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McDONOGH, John, philanthropist, born in Baltimore, Maryland, 29 December, 1779; died in McDonogh, Louisiana, 26 October, 1850. His father, John, was in the Braddock expedition in 1755, and afterward served in the Revolution. The son received an academic education, and at seventeen entered mercantile life in Baltimore, but removed in 1800 to New Orleans, where he rapidly accumulated wealth in the commission and shipping business. During the war of 1812 he participated in the battle of New Orleans. In 1818 he was an unsuccessful candidate for the United States senate, and about this time founded the town of McDonoghville. In 1822 he prepared to liberate his slaves, but, disapproving of manumission, required each one to buy himself at a moderate sum. To enable him to accumulate this, Mr. McDonogh paid each slave for his services at fair rates, gave an education to those that desired it, and, when freedom had been purchased, sent ship-loads of his negroes to Africa at his own expense for a period of seventeen years. He became a vice-president of the American colonization society in 1830, and contributed largely to its support. At his death he left the bulk of his fortune, which was estimated at more than $2,000,000, to the cities of New Orleans and Baltimore, for the purpose of establishing free schools. After many years of litigation and much loss of value by the civil war, an estate of 800 acres was purchased on the Western Maryland railroad near Baltimore in 1873, and the McDonogh labor-schools were established, at which seventy boys annually are received to learn practical and scientific farming, and the rudiments of an English education. In New Orleans the principal of the fund is invested in the MeDonogh schools, which are conducted in connection with the public schools of that city. He also left bequests to the American colonization society and to the New Orleans boys' orphan asylum. See "Life and Work of John McDonogh," by William Allan (Baltimore, 1886).
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