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 biographyplease
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
Virtual American Biographies
Over 30,000 personalities
with thousands of 19th Century illustrations, signatures, and exceptional life
welcomes editing and additions to the
biographies. To become this site's editor or a contributor
or e-mail Virtualology here.
DOWSE, Thomas, book collector, born in Charlestown, Massachusetts, 28 December 1772; died in Cambridgeport, 4 November 1856. He was called "the literary leather dresser." His father, Eleazer Dowse, was a leather dresser, and was driven with his family from Charlestown on 17 June 1775, his house being one of those burned by the British forces. He settled at Sherburne, Middlesex County, where Thomas spent his youth, receiving no other education than that of the town school. On attaining his majority he entered the service of a leather dresser at Roxbury, Massachusetts, and remained in that employment for ten years. He once informed a friend that, at the age of twenty-eight, his highest income had been twenty-five dollars a month; that he had never paid five dollars for conveyance from one place to another; had never owned a pair of boots, but possessed several hundred volumes of good books well bound. In 1803 he set up in business as a leather dresser at Cambridge port, and pursued the occupation successfully till he was far advanced in life.
From the earliest period he devoted a large part of his income to the purchase of books. Standing at his bench, he would buy books, speculate on philosophical truths, and discuss the great problems of existence. By diligent search, great knowledge of bibliography, shrewdness, and strict economy in his purchases, he amassed a remarkable library. It consisted of about 5,000 volumes in good, often elegant, binding, and of the best editions. It was mostly English, though containing translations of the principal authors in the ancient languages and the cultivated languages of modern Europe. The library was estimated to have cost $40,000. Mr. Dowse had a golden lamb in front of his store as a sign; and, when some Harvard students broke off its head, he was so irritated that he changed his will, by which he had intended to give property valued at $100,000 to Harvard, and bequeathed it instead to the Massachusetts historical society. His library was deposited in a special room in their building in Boston, and he left $10,000 as a permanent fund for its preservation and care. He was an admirer of Benjamin Franklin, and erected a monument to his memory in Mount Auburn cemetery. A collection of engravings and watercolors, which he drew in a lottery about 1820, was given to the Boston athenaeum. Harvard gave him the degree of LB. D., which Edward Everett translated into "Literary Leather Dresser."
This site and its contents are not affiliated, connected,
associated with or authorized by the individual, family,
friends, or trademarked entities utilizing any part or
the subject's entire name. Any official or affiliated
sites that are related to this subject will be hyper
linked below upon submission
and Evisum, Inc. review.
Please join us in our mission to incorporate America's Four United Republics discovery-based curriculum into the classroom of every primary and secondary school in the United States of America by July 2, 2026, the nation’s 250th birthday. , the United States of America: We The
People. Click Here