The Cyclopædia of American Biography/Lowell, Abbott Lawrence

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The Cyclopædia of American Biography  (1918) 
James E. Homans, editor
Lowell, Abbott Lawrence

LOWELL, Abbott Lawrence, educator, b. in Boston, Mass., 13 Dec, 1856, son of Augustus and Katherine Bigelow (Lawrence) Lowell, and a descendant of Percival Lowell, who came from Worcestershire, England, and settled at Newbury, Mass., in 1639. Among his ancestors were Francis Cabot Lowell, one of the pioneers in the Massachusetts cotton industry; John Lowell, Jr., the founder of Lowell Institute; John Amory Lowell, its first trustee, and James Russell Lowell, the poet. His maternal grandfather was Abbott Lawrence, a U. S. minister to England. Dr. Lowell was educated at the public school and at Harvard College, where he was graduated in 1877. He studied law at the Harvard Law School and in the office of Russell and Putnam, being admitted to the bar in 1880. He formed a partnership with Francis Cabot Lowell, a relative, and after eleven years' successful practice the firm added to its membership Frederick Jesup Stimson. In 1897 Mr. Lowell retired from practice and was appointed lecturer at Harvard. He was made professor of the science of government in 1899. Ten years later, upon the retirement of President Eliot, he was elected to succeed him as president of the university. He entered upon his duties, 6 Oct., 1909. His forceful personality soon gained for him great influence among the students and his elementary course in government was regarded as the most popular in the college. One of his important acts was the limitation of the system of “electives” — providing for a certain amount of obligatory work in a definite direction and an apportionment of other studies with the advice of the faculty, this being in line with his idea of a liberal education. President Lowell's writings have been along the line of history and science of government, in which field he is internationally recognized as an authority. He published, in conjunction with Francis Cabot Lowell, “Transfer of Stock in Corporations” (1884); and alone “Essays in Government” (1889); “Governments and Parties in Continental Europe” (1896); “The Influence of Party Upon Legislation in England and America” (1902); “The Government of England” (1908), and “Public Opinion and Popular Government” (1913). “Colonial Civil Service” (1902) was written in collaboration with Prof. H. Morse Stevens. President Lowell has been a member of the Boston School Committee, and the executive committee of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He belongs to the Massachusetts Historical Society, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and is a trustee of the Lowell Institute, since 1900 having full charge of the funds and management of that institution. He married, in 1879, Anna Parker, daughter of George G. Lowell, of Boston, Mass.