Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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BATES, Joshua, financier, born in Weymouth, Massachusetts, in 1788; died in London, England, 24 September 1864. He came of an old Massachusetts family, and his father was a colonel in the revolutionary army. At the age of fifteen he entered the counting-house of William Gray & Son, of Boston, where he displayed so much aptitude for business that in a few years both father and son trusted him with their most complicated affairs. When twenty-one years of age he entered into partnership with a Mr. Beckford, but, on account of the war of 1812, he was unsuccessful, and returned to the Grays, who sent him to Europe as their agent. Here he was thrown into intimate relations with the Hopes and Barings and other great commercial houses, and, as he continued to have the control of Mr. Gray's affairs throughout Europe for several years after the peace, these houses became impressed with his business abilities. In 1826 he formed a partnership in London with John Baring, and two years later they both were received into the firm of Baring" Brothers & county, of which Mr. Bates in due time became senior partner. In 1854, when a joint commission was appointed to make a final settlement of claims between citizens of Great Britain and the United States, arising from the war of 1812, Mr. Bates was appointed umpire between the British and American commissioners in all cases where they could not agree. The justice of his numerous decisions has never been called in question in either country, and some of them contain full discussions of important questions in international law. Mr. Bates, in his youth, had felt the necessity for a good public library, and, though he succeeded in obtaining the books that he needed, he never forgot the difficulties encountered for want of them. Hence, when he learned, in 1852, that the city of Boston was about taking measures for the establishment of a free public library, he immediately offered $50,000 toward such a library, on the sole condition that the interest of the money should be spent in the purchase of books of permanent value and authority, and that the city should always provide comfortable accommodations for its use day and night by at least one hundred readers. He afterward gave to the library about 30,000 volumes, raising the value of the entire gift to fully twice the original amount. After his death the large hall of the library was called, in his honor, Bates Hall. His interest in his native country continued to the close of his life, and during the civil war his sympathies with the government were freely manifested. See "Memorial of Joshua Bates" (Boston, 1865).
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