The New International Encyclopædia/Low, Seth

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LOW, Seth (1850—). An American educator and administrator. He was born in Brooklyn; graduated at Columbia College in 1870, and after a short trip abroad, entered the tea and silk house of A. A. Low & Brothers, founded by his father in New York. In 1875 he was admitted a member of the firm, from which, upon its liquidation in 1888, he withdrew with a large fortune. In 1882 he was elected Mayor of Brooklyn by a fair majority on an independent ticket. His administration was characterized by his application of the civil-service system to city offices and the impartial maintenance of efficient service among appointees. In 1884 he was elected to a second term, which expired in 1886. In 1890 he was elected to succeed Dr. F. A. P. Barnard (q.v.) in the presidency of Columbria College. Not a trained scholar, nor an educator in the specific meaning of the word, he succeeded by his administrative skill in transforming the institution. He increased the college proper in resources, attendance, and general reputation; transferred the site of the institution to the valuable property on Morningside Heights, and vitally united the various schools into one organization, with the title of university, and under the direction, not as theretofore of the respective faculties, but of a university council. Further reforms effected by him include the reorganization of the Law School, the addition of a faculty of pure science, the association with the university of the Teachers College, and the extension of the department of political and social study. He also made to the university a gift of $1,000,000, to be used for the erection of a library building. In 1897, despite the opposition of the organizations of the two great parties, he received 150,000 votes as independent candidate for Mayor of New York City. He was a member of the American delegation to the Czar's Peace Conference at The Hague in 1899, and at various times held other posts of public trust. In 1901, when the revolt against Tammany Hall had become general, he was elected Mayor of New York City on a fusion ticket, whose candidates were pledged especially to break up police corruption, and despite many difficulties, due to the effects of the Tammany ailministration, was able to announce, through a message appearing in the public prints of February 17, 1903, progress in the several municipal departments. He was a founder and the first president of the Bureau of Charities of Brooklyn, and was elected vice-president of the New York Academy of Sciences and president of the American Archæological Institute. His academic dignities include, among others, the degree of LL.D., conferred by the University of the State of New York, Harvard, and Princeton.