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William Baldwin Jr.
William Henry Baldwin Jr. was born on this date in 1863. He was a white-American corporate executive and philanthropist
He was the son of William Henry Baldwin, a dry goods merchant, and Mary Chaffee. A direct descendant of an English settler who had arrived in Massachusetts before 1640, Baldwin grew up in a family noted for its commitment to abolition and other reforms. His father founded the Young Men’s Christian Union of Boston, an adult social service organization.
He graduated from Harvard University in 1885 and studied law there for a year afterward. He was instrumental in establishing African American industrial education by securing sizable donations from Northern industrial magnates. His railroad career began through an invitation from Charles Francis Adams, president of the Union Pacific Railroad. Baldwin started as an auditor's clerk in the Omaha, Nebraska office. He rose successively to the general agent for the Montana territory, assistant general freight agent for Union Pacific, and manager of the railroad's Leavenworth, Kansas, division.
In 1891 Baldwin found employment with Flint and Pere Marquette Railway, where he remained for two years. He then became the third vice president of the Southern Railway system. One of his challenges was the reorganization of the Richmond and Danville railway lines. In a couple of years, he was promoted to second vice president and general traffic manager. His efforts enabled the Southern Railroad to avoid bankruptcy. He became president of the Long Island Railroad from Boston, Massachusetts. Baldwin was an original trustee of the Southern Education Board and became the first president of the General Education Board in 1902. His work at Tuskegee University was considered so important that during the 25th-anniversary ceremonies his name, along with Andrew Carnegie's and President William Taft's, was inscribed onto the campus’ lawn in letters several feet long.
On October 30, 1889, Baldwin married Ruth Standish Bowles, of Springfield, Massachusetts. They had three children: Ruth Standish; William Henry III; Mary Chaffee. Baldwin became a trustee of Tuskegee in 1894 where he worked alongside Booker T. Washington. The son of a prominent Bostonian, William Henry Baldwin Sr., he carved out a successful career for himself in the railroad industry and gave generously of his time and money to the education of former slaves. Mrs. Baldwin joined him in his work for the education of Blacks and was one of the founders of the National Urban League in 1910. Their daughter Ruth married the landscape painter John Fulton Folinsbee.
William H. Baldwin Jr. died of intestinal cancer at his home in Locust Valley, New York on January 3, 1905. He was buried in Forest Hill Cemetery in Boston following a private funeral in Glen Cove, New York. After his death, the ferries operated by the Long Island Railroad flew their flags at half-mast and the principal stations on the road were draped in black for several days.