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
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ROBERTS, Marshall 0wen, merchant, born in New York city, 22 March, 1814; died in Saratoga Springs, New York, 11 September, 1880. His father, a physician, came from Wales and settled in New York in 1798. The son received a good education, and would have been sent to college, as his father wished him to adopt his own profession, but the boy preferred a mercantile life. After leaving school he became first a grocer's clerk, but soon afterward secured a place with a ship-chandler. By the time he was of age he had saved enough money to begin business for himself, and in two years he obtained a contract to supply the United States navy department with whale-oil, on which he realized a handsome profit. He was among the first to recognize the advantage of finely equipped steamers for Hudson river, and built the "Hendrik Hudson." He next turned his attention to railroads, was one of the early advocates of the Erie, and projected the Delaware, Lackawanna, and Western railroad. When the "California fever" began in 1849 he made a contract with the United States government to transport the mails to California by the Isthmus of Panama. He owned the "Star of the West," which was sent with provisions to Fort Sumter, and when Fort Monroe was threatened in the spring of 1861 he raised 1,000 men at his own expense and sent them in his steamer '" America" to re-enforce the garrison. He took a great interest in the Texas Pacific railroad, and invested nearly $2,000,000 in the enterprise, and he was also largely interested in other railroads throughout the United States and Canada. He was also one of the earliest friends of the Atlantic telegraph cable. In 1852 he was nominated for congress by the Whig party, but was defeated. In 1856 he was a delegate to the first National convention of the Republican party which met in Philadelphia and nominated John C. Fremont for the presidency. In 1865 he was nominated for mayor of New York by the Union party, but again was unsuccessful. The value of his gallery of pictures was estimated at $750,000.
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