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Amos Adams Lawrence (July 31, 1814 – August 22, 1886), the son of famed philanthropist Amos Lawrence, was a key figure in the United States abolition movement in the years leading up to the Civil War, and instrumental in the establishment of the University of Kansas and Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin.

Biography[]

Lawrence was born in Groton, Massachusetts and educated at Groton Academy (now Lawrence Academy at Groton) and Harvard College. He then entered business for himself as a commission merchant and eventually became owner of Ipswich Mills, the largest producer of knit goods in the country. In addition, he was a devout member of St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Boston, where he met and married his wife, Sarah Appleton (a relative of Samuel Appleton), as well as a trustee of Massachusetts General Hospital, president of the Young Men's Benevolent Society, and a key figure in the United States abolition movement in the years leading up to the Civil War, during which he contributed large amounts of capital to the Massachusetts Emigrant Aid Company and John Brown's abolitionism, played a major role in the crucial border state of Kansas (see Kansas-Nebraska Act), and also contributed to funds for the colonization of free negroes in Liberia. In 1858 and 1860 he was the Whig candidate for governor of Massachusetts.

Lawrence financed the founding of the University of Kansas (in the town of Lawrence); founded in 1849 a college that evolved into Lawrence University upon 5,000 acres (20 km2) of land that he purchased in 1844 in the Fox River Valley, which became Appleton, Wisconsin (named for his father in law); and contributed large sums of money to Harvard and the Episcopal Theological School (now Episcopal Divinity School), in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Lawrence Academy, and the Groton School. His farm outside of Boston became the campus for Boston College. In 1857-1862 he was treasurer of Harvard College, and in 1879-1885 was an overseer.

Amos Adams Lawrence is credited with founding an Episcopalian dynasty in Boston, Massachusetts, which prompted many Boston Brahmins to convert from Unitarianism. His son, William Lawrence, took an even more avid interest in the Episcopalian church, and became the long-time bishop of Massachusetts.

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