Israel Thorndike business records, 1740-1899 (inclusive)
About this Collection
- Thorndike, Israel , 1755-1832
- Accounts.Bills of exchange.Bills of lading.Charter parties.Correspondence.Deeds.Invoices.Legal instruments.Orders to pay.Promissory notes.Ships' papers.
- Collection Title
- Israel Thorndike business records, 1740-1899 (inclusive)
- 5 linear ft. (14 boxes).
- Baker Library, Harvard Business School, Harvard University
- More ...
The Israel Thorndike business records, dated 1740-1899, consist of correspondence, invoices, accounts, legal papers, and spoliation claims related to Thorndike's shipping ventures and partnerships, as well as family correspondence and household accounts. The collection also includes records of the Boston Sugar Refinery, Provident Institute for Savings in Boston, and several other New England merchants.
Israel Thorndike was born in Beverly, Massachusetts, in 1755, to Anna and Andrew Thorndike, a farmer and sailor. He was apprenticed to a cooper before finding work as a fisherman. In 1772, he formed a partnership with his future brother-in-law, Moses Brown (1742-1827; Harvard AB 1768). Both men served during the Revolutionary War; Thorndike commanded privateer ships and enlisted in the newly created Massachusetts State Navy. Brown & Thorndike also collaborated with other Beverly and Salem merchants in 1777-1778 to fund construction and voyages of privateer ships, including the Black Prince and Pilgrim. After the war, Brown & Thorndike briefly engaged in the slave trade and marketed fish and dry goods in Europe and the West Indies. The firm was formally dissolved in 1793, although Brown would still occasionally invest in voyages with Thorndike. Thorndike also partnered with his father-in-law George Dodge in shipping ventures to the West and East Indies, with his son-in-law Ebenezer Francis (1775-1858), who served as Harvard College treasurer for several years, and with Boston merchant David Sears (1752-1816), who owned a stake in the voyage of the ship Alexander Hodgdon to the East Indies and Europe. Other family members he employed included nephew Andrew Thorndike, who served as a supercargo for the ship Alexander Hodgdon, and Luke Thorndike, who was a shipmaster. In 1810, he moved from Beverly to Boston, where he continued his shipping enterprise. Thorndike also began to explore manufacturing. In 1813, he invested in Francis Cabot Lowell's (1775-1817; Harvard AB 1793) newly established Boston Manufacturing Company, which made textiles. After Lowell died, Thorndike was president of the company, from 1817 to 1831. He also had a stake in the Merrimack Manufacturing Company. Thorndike was active in politics and was a member of the Federalist Party. As a delegate to the Massachusetts Convention on the Constitution in 1788, he supported ratification. In 1802, Thorndike was elected Beverly's representative to the Massachusetts state legislature. He and Daniel Webster (1782-1852) hosted a dinner for the Marquis de Lafayette in 1825, and Thorndike contributed funds to construct the Bunker Hill Monument. In 1818, Thorndike purchased the library of Americana collected by University of Hamburg professor Christophe Daniel Ebeling (1741-1817) and donated it to Harvard College. Thorndike was married three times, to Mercy Trask (1756-1783), Anna Dodge (1765-1817), and Sarah Dana (1780-1846). He had ten children who survived to adulthood, including Elizabeth Thorndike Francis (1778-1853), Israel, Jr. (1785-1867), George (1789-1811), Andrew (1790-1854), Sally (1793-1819), Edward (1794-1821), Charles (1795-), Augustus (1797-1858), Oliver (1800-1822) and Anna Thorndike Loring (1804-1872).