Why Some Succeed While Others Fail: Abbott Lawrence

Solomon said: “Seest thou a man diligent in his business? he shall stand before kings,—he shall not stand before mean men.” How true are those words; how often have we seen them demonstrated.

Abbott Lawrence, brother of Amos Lawrence, was born December 16, 1792, and what education he had he received at the academy in Groton. When about sixteen years of age he took the stage for Boston, with the princely sum of three dollars in his pocket. He entered the store of his brother Amos as clerk. After five years of faithful service he was taken in as partner, and the firm-style became A. & A. Lawrence.

The war of 1812 came on, and Abbott, who possessed less money than his brother, failed, but he was not disheartened. He applied to the government for a position in the army, but before his application could be acted upon peace was declared.

After the war his brother Amos helped him, and once more they entered into partnership, Abbott going to England to buy goods for the firm. About 1820 the Lawrence brothers, with that enterprise which characterizes all great business men, commenced manufacturing goods in America, instead of importing them from the old world, and to the Lawrences is due no small credit, as the cities of Lowell and Lawrence will testify. He was a member of the celebrated convention at Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, whose recommendations to Congress resulted in the tariff act of 1828, which was so obnoxious to Calhoun and the Cotton States. In 1834 Mr. Lawrence was elected to Congress, where he did valuable service on the Committee of Ways and Means. He declined re-election, but afterward was persuaded to become a candidate and was again elected. By the advice of Daniel Webster he was sent to England on the boundary question.

President Taylor offered him a seat in his Cabinet, but he declined—later he was sent to England, where he became a distinguished diplomat, and was recalled only at his own request. At one time he lacked but six votes of being nominated for Vice-President.

On the 18th of August, 1855, Abbott Lawrence died. Nearly every business place in Boston was closed—in fact, Boston was in mourning; the military companies were out on solemn parade, flags were placed at half-mast, and minute-guns were fired. Thus passed away one of the merchant princes of New England.