Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Boott, Kirk

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BOOTT, Kirk, manufacturer, b. in Boston, 20 Oct., 1790; d. in Lowell, Mass., 11 Apr., 1837. His father, an Englishman, came to Boston in 1783, and engaged in business as a wholesale merchant. The son studied in the Boston schools, and then went to Rugby, in England; returning to this country, he entered Harvard in the class of 1809, but left before graduation to study civil engineering in England, with a view to joining the British army. At the age of twenty-one he received his commission as lieutenant. With his regiment, the 85th light infantry, he took part in the peninsular campaign, landing in Spain in August, 1813. After Napoleon had been sent to Elba, Boott's regiment was detailed for service against the United States, and took part in the attacks on Washington and on New Orleans. Boott, however, was excused from serving against the land of his birth. After a short visit to this country he returned to England, and studied engineering at Sandhurst. Later he resigned his commission and came to Boston to engage in business with two of his brothers. He was not successful in this venture, however, and when in 1822 Patrick T. Jackson offered him the position of agent of the Merrimack mills at Lowell he accepted the offer eagerly. The man and the opportunity were joined most opportunely. Boott was a man of tireless energy, original, a born leader. The possibilities of Lowell as a manufacturing centre were just unfolding, and Boott at once threw himself into the developing of his particular company and of the town as well. His training as military engineer enabled him to take every mechanical advantage of the water-power offered by the Merrimack river; mills, machinery, looks, canals — all received his attention. Besides his agency of the Merrimack mills he was also superintendent of the print-works, and agent of the Proprietors of locks and canals. He was moderator of the first town meeting, and was often sent to the state legislature. Naturally he took an interest in church work equally as intense as in municipal affairs and in the immediate business concerns of his mills; he threw himself entirely into the business of the moment, and impressed his personality upon Lowell as few other men have done. He was the pioneer and the leader in the development of manufacturing in this country — from the small, detached, weak establishments in which it had hitherto been conducted into the great joint-stock companies, to the existence of which is due so much of the wealth of the country. He pushed on with all his powers at extreme tension, until he was suddenly stricken down by a stroke of apoplexy.