Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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PERKINS, Thomas Handasyd, philanthropist, born in Boston, Massachusetts, 15 December, 1764; died in Brookline, Massachusetts, 11 January, 1854. His father was a merchant in Boston, and his mother, Elizabeth Peck, was a founder and friend of the Boston female asylum. Thomas was educated in the public schools and privately, and, after passing several years in a Boston counting-house, visited his brother James in Santo Domingo in 1785, and soon became associated with him there in a mercantile house. The climate injuring his health, he returned to Boston, and for some time attended to the business of the firm in the United States. In 1789 he went as a supercargo to Batavia and Can ton, and he subsequently made several successful ventures in the Pacific, on the northwest coast of America, and in China. He then formed a partnership with his brother James, which for the succeeding thirty years was remarkable for the extent and success of its enterprises. Soon after the death of his brother in 1822 Mr. Perkins retired from business. In 1805 he was elected to the Massachusetts senate, and for about eighteen years subsequently he, most of the time, represented Boston in either branch of the legislature. In 1827 he was the projector of the Quincy railway, the first in the United States, and was lieutenant-colonel of a military corps in Boston. Mr. Perkins gave his house and grounds in Pearl street, valued at $50,000, for a blind asylum (now the Perkins institution and Massachusetts asylum for the blind), on condition that$50,000 should be raised as a fund for its support. He was one of the chief contributors to the funds of the Massachusetts general hospital, the largest contributor to the Mercantile library association, and, with other members of his family, gave more than $60,000 to the Boston athenaeum. He took an active part in the erection of Bunker Hill monument, and was also interested in urging forward the completion of the Washington monument. He wrote, while in Europe, and at other times, diaries and autobiographical sketches, which were partly republished in Thomas G. Cary's memoir of his life (Boston, 1856).--His nephew, James Handasyd, author, born in Boston, 31 July, 1810; died in Cincinnati, 14 December, 1849, was educated privately at Phillips Exeter academy and at Round Hill school, Northampton. In 1828-'30 he was a clerk in his uncle's counting-room, and, after a tour in England and the West Indies, settled in 1832 in Cincinnati. He studied law there, which he soon abandoned for literature. He conducted the "Western Monthly Magazine," and edited the "Evening Chronicle," a weekly paper which he purchased in 1835 and united with the " Cincinnati Mirror." After the failure of his publisher he became in 1839 a minister at large, a mission of benevolence to which he devoted the rest of his life, and at the same time opened a girls' school, which gained a high reputation in Cincinnati. He was pastor of the Cincinnati Unitarian society in 1841-'7, in succession to his cousin. William Henry Channing. He identified himself with the cause of prison discipline and reform and gave much attention to education, and during his latter years interested himself in a clan of Christian union. He was first president of the Cincinnati historical society, and vice-president of the Ohio historical society, a trustee of the Cincinnati college, and of the Astronomical society. He published a " Digest of the Constitutional Opinions of Chief-Justice John Marshall" (Boston, 1839); "Christian Civilization," an address (Cincinnati, 1840); and "Annals of the West" (1847; revised and enlarged by John M. Peck, St. Louis, 1850); and contributed articles to the "North American Review" in 1839-'47, chiefly upon the history of Ohio and pioneer settlement. In a fit of depression he drowned himself in the Ohio river. See his "Memoirs," by William Henry Channing (2 vols., Boston, 1851).
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