1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Lowell, John

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LOWELL, JOHN (1743-1802), American jurist, was born in Newburyport, Massachusetts, on the 17th of June 1743, and was a son of the Reverend John Lowell, the first pastor of Newburyport, and a descendant of Perceval Lowle or Lowell (1571-1665), who emigrated from Somersetshire to Massachusetts Bay in 1639 and was the founder of the family in New England. John Lowell graduated at Harvard in 1760, was admitted to the bar in 1763, represented Newburyport (1776) and Boston (1778) in the Massachusetts Assembly, was a member of the Massachusetts Constitutional Convention of 1770-1780 and, as a member of the committee appointed to draft a constitution, secured the insertion of the clause, “all men are born free and equal,” which was interpreted by the supreme court of the state in 1783 as abolishing slavery in the state. In 1781-1783 he was a member of the Continental Congress, which in 1782 made him a judge of the court of appeals for admiralty cases; in 1784 he was one of the commissioners from Massachusetts to settle the boundary line between Massachusetts and New York; in 1789-1801 he was a judge of the U.S. District Court of Massachusetts; and from 1801 until his death in Roxbury on the 6th of May 1802 he was a justice of the U.S. Circuit Court for the First Circuit (Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Rhode Island).

His son, John Lowell (1769-1840), graduated at Harvard in 1786, was admitted to the bar in 1789 (like his father, before he was twenty years old), and retired from active practice in 1803. He opposed French influence and the policies of the Democratic party, writing many spirited pamphlets (some signed “The Boston Rebel,” some “The Roxbury Farmer”), including: The Antigallican (1797), Remarks on the Hon. J. Q. Adams's Review of Mr Ames's Works (1809), New England Patriot, being a Candid Comparison of the Principles and Conduct of the Washington and Jefferson Administrations (1810), Appeals to the People on the Causes and Consequences of War with Great Britain (1811) and Mr Madison's War (1812). These pamphlets contain an extreme statement of the anti-war party and defend impressment as a right of long standing. After the war Lowell abandoned politics, and won for himself the title of “the Columella of New England” by his interest in agriculture — he was for many years president of the Massachusetts Agricultural Society. He was a benefactor of the Boston Athenaeum and the Massachusetts General Hospital.

Another son of the first John Lowell, Francis Cabot Lowell (1775-1817), the founder in the United States of cotton manufacturing, was born in Newburyport on the 7th of April 1775, graduated at Harvard in 1793, became a merchant in Boston, and, during the war of 1812, with his cousin (who was also his brother-in-law), Patrick Tracy Jackson, made use of the knowledge of cotton-spinning gained by Lowell in England (whither he had gone for his health in 1810) and devised a power loom. Experiments were successfully carried on at Waltham in 1814. Lowell worked hard to secure a protective tariff on cotton goods. The city of Lowell, Massachusetts, was named in his honour. He died in Boston on the 10th of August 1817.

Charles Lowell (1782-1861), brother of the last named, was born in Boston, graduated at Harvard in 1800, studied law and then theology, and after two years in Edinburgh and one year on the Continent was from 1806 until his death pastor of the West Congregational (Unitarian) Church of Boston, a charge in which Cyrus A. Bartol was associated with him after 1837. Charles Lowell had a rare sweetness and charm, which reappeared in his youngest son, James Russell Lowell (q.v.).

Francis Cabot Lowell's son, John Lowell (1799-1836), was born in Boston, travelled in India and the East Indies on business in 1816 and 1817, in 1832 set out on a trip around the world, and on the 4th of March 1836 died in Bombay. By a will made, said Edward Everett, “on the top of a palace of the Pharaohs,” he left $237,000 to establish what is now known as the Lowell Institute (q.v.).

See the first lecture delivered before the Institute, Edward Everett's A Memoir of Mr John Lowell, Jr. (Boston, 1840).

A grandson of Francis Cabot Lowell, Edward Jackson Lowell (1845-1894), graduated at Harvard in 1867, was admitted to the Suffolk county (Mass.) bar in 1872, and practised law for a few years. He wrote The Hessians and the Other German Auxiliaries of Great Britain in the Revolutionary War (1884), The Eve of the French Revolution (1892) and the chapter, “The United States of America 1775-1782: their Political Relations with Europe,” in vol. vii. (1888) of Winsor's Narrative and Critical History of America.