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    • Who was the founder of the Wharton School?

      • The Wharton School. In 1881, American entrepreneur and industrialist Joseph Wharton established the world’s first collegiate school of business at the University of Pennsylvania — a radical idea that revolutionized both business practice and higher education.
  1. The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania was a remarkable innovation when Joseph Wharton, a self-educated 19th-century industrialist, first proposed its establishment more than 135 years ago. Wharton believed the role of business was to advance society as a whole, creating new wealth and economic opportunity for all people.

  2. The World’s First Business School For more than 135 years, Wharton has been the place where visionaries, inventors, and trailblazers get their start. In 1881, American entrepreneur and industrialist Joseph Wharton established the world’s first collegiate school of business at the University of Pennsylvania — a radical idea that ...

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  4. Wharton School: A Brief History. The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania began in 1881 when Joseph Wharton, an iron miner and a self-taught businessman, gave $100,000 to the University to found a “School of Finance and Economy,” intending to, in his own words, “instill a sense of the coming strife [in business life]: of the immense swings upward or downward that await the competent or the incompetent soldier in this modern strife.”.

  5. Joseph Wharton (March 3, 1826 – January 11, 1909) was an American industrialist. He was involved in mining, manufacturing and education. He was involved in mining, manufacturing and education. He founded the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania , co-founded the Bethlehem Steel company, and was one of the founders of Swarthmore College .

    • Joanna W. Lippincott, Mary L. Wharton, Anna W. Morris.
    • Industrialist
  6. A Brief History. In 1881, an iron manufacturer, Joseph Wharton, offered the University of Pennsylvania a donation of $100,000 for the creation of the Wharton School of Finance and Commerce. The first marketing course, “Marketing Products,” was not offered until 1904, and the field began its continuous development at Wharton with the ...

    • Early Years
    • Schooling
    • Starting in Business
    • Family Life
    • Nickel Manufacture
    • Estate, Water and New Jersey
    • Summers
    • Business Empire
    • Bethlehem Steel
    • Washington Politics and Distinguished Guests

    Wharton was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1826, the fifth child of ten in a liberal Hicksite Quaker family. His parents William Wharton and Deborah Fisher Wharton were both from prominent early American immigrant families of Quaker descent. Interestingly, both of Wharton's grandmothers were named Hannah and were from Newport, Rhode Island. Wharton's maternal grandfather, Samuel R. Fisher ran a prosperous mercantile business and shipping packet line between Philadelphia and London, England. Wharton's youth was spent in the family's house near Spruce and 4th Streets in downtown Philadelphia and at the country mansion "Bellevue". Wharton's father was a typical gentleman, and did not hold a regular job because he had several illnesses, but oversaw his estate, served on the Philadelphia School Board, and was active with his wife Deborah in the Hicksite ministry. From their country estate, the family often went to the nearby Schuylkill River, visited neighboring estates such as De...

    As a boy, Wharton attended two Quaker boarding schools in the towns outside of Philadelphia and also several private schools in the city. Between the age of 14 and 16, Wharton was prepared for college by a private tutor. However, when he was 16, he went on the advice of his parents to mature and learn the life of a farmer, a common dream of city-borne Hicksite Quakers at the time, and boarded with Joseph and Abigail Walton on their family farm near West Chester, Pennsylvania for three years. By that time, Wharton had matured to a strong frame, 6 feet (1.8 m) in stature, with a serious but cheerful outlook. He was accomplished in sports such as horseback riding, swimming, and rowing on the Schuylkill River. During the winter Wharton returned to his parents' home in Philadelphia and studied languages such as French and German, which were useful for learning about science and technology. He also studied chemistry at the Philadelphia laboratory of Martin Hans Boyè. Wharton and his broth...

    When he was 19, Wharton apprenticed with an accountant for two years and became proficient in business methods and bookkeeping. At 21, he partnered with his older brother Rodman to start a business manufacturing white lead. Wharton's chemistry mentor, Martin Boye, had developed a method to refine cottonseed oil and the Wharton brothers tried but failed to develop a profitable method to extract it. In 1849 Wharton started a business manufacturing bricks using a patented machine which pressed dry clay into forms. There was substantial competition in the brick business, which was affected by cyclical business swings, and after several trips to sell bricks and the brick-making machines, Wharton found the prospects for making good profits were dim. However from the endeavor he gained valuable experience. In 1853, Wharton joined the Pennsylvania and Lehigh Zinc Company near Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, first managing the mining operation and later the zinc oxide works. Wharton proved himself...

    Wharton married Anna Corbit Lovering, a fellow Quaker and the younger sister of his brother Charles' wife, in 1854 in a Quaker ceremony. After living with Anna's family for several months the couple moved into a house belonging to his mother near 12th and Walnut Streets in Philadelphia, but Anna often continued to stay with her parents while Joseph was out of town. She preferred a life of comfort but evidently did not wish to stifle his ambition. During this time Wharton lived a spartan life, boarding at a hotel and managing the zinc works in Bethlehem, and Anna cared for their first child Joanna at their home in Philadelphia. Although Joseph returned as often as possible and they communicated often by letter, they felt much stress during this period and their marriage suffered. Later, when Joseph was more secure in his job manufacturing zinc, Anna and Joanna came to live with him in Bethlehem, where they lived a happier life for two years, partaking in social events and exploring t...

    Hoping to profit from the use of nickel in coins, Wharton in 1863 sold his interest in zinc and started the manufacture of nickel at Camden, New Jersey, taking over a nickel mine and refining works at Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania. The Camden plant was located on the east side of 10th Street, adjacent to Cooper Creek, and had several large brick buildings and smokestacks. Wharton renamed the Camden plant the American Nickel Works, and his office there became his center of operations. However, the use of nickel in coinage was temporarily halted, and soon the Camden plant burned. Wharton rebuilt it in 1868 and made excellent profits from producing nickel because it became favored for coinage. Wharton won wide acclaim for his malleable nickel, the first in the world, and also for nickel magnets, and received the Gold Medal at the Paris Exposition of 1878. His factory produced the only nickel in the US and a significant fraction of the world supply. Eventually the surface deposits at the G...

    In 1854 Philadelphia increased its tax base by expanding its borders to include the surrounding suburbs, and after the Civil War its population swelled. By 1870 the Centennial Exposition was upcoming, and Philadelphia was rapidly changing. It was suffering from a water crisis because it required more water, but there was no appropriate method for water purification and the Delaware and Schuylkill rivers were heavily polluted. Philadelphia's typhoid fever rate was among the highest in the nation, and most well-to-do families drank bottled spring water. The Wharton family's "Bellevue" estate, along with several others nearby that had been annexed into the city, was threatened with condemnation by the city for the construction of a new reservoir to hold potable water. Wharton saw a potential solution to both of these problems. He started purchasing land in southern New Jersey in the 1870s, eventually acquiring 150 square miles (390 km2) in the Pinelands which contained an aquifer reple...

    Wharton's family had long roots in Newport, Rhode Island and he summered there with his extended family at the family house on Washington Street for many decades. When his children were young, Wharton enjoyed taking them rowing and sailing about the harbor. Often they would sail across the bay to Conanicut Island to picnic and explore the cliffs and beaches. In 1882 Joseph Wharton, his brother Charles, and other friends purchased plots in Jamestown, Rhode Island, across the bay from Newport and built summer homes there. Wharton constructed Horsehead-Marbella, a large stone house with a prominent tower overlooking the entrance to Narragansett Bay. He named the house "Marbella" but it was later called "Horsehead" after a rock formation on the cliffs below that looked like the head of a horse from a certain angle. The family was active in swimming and sailing, and the grandchildren enjoyed playing on the rocks and tidal pools below the house. Wharton and his wife Anna enjoyed socializi...

    Wharton traveled widely and became involved in many industrial enterprises such as mines, factories and railroads. He started several enterprises on the South New Jersey property, including a menhaden fish factory that produced oil and fertilizer, a modern forestry planting operation, and cranberry and sugar beet farms. Wharton also purchased land containing ore and an iron furnace in northern New Jersey at Port Oram, New Jersey (now Wharton, New Jersey) which was located close to the Morris Canal and railroads. He purchased a coal mine in western Pennsylvania, constructing for the workers a town of 85 houses and stores along the railway. He also purchased coal land in West Virginia, iron and copper mines in Michigan, and gold mines in Arizona and Nevada. Wharton became involved in the Reading and Lehigh railroads and several others, arranging spur lines with the railroads to carry ore and finished metal products. He maintained an extensive business correspondence and in later life...

    Through the 1870s Wharton began to buy into Bethlehem Iron Company which produced pig iron and steel rails, gradually investing more of his own time and energy, but without involvement in the day-to-day operations. He became the largest shareholder with a position on the board of managers, and eventually purchased a controlling share of the company. In 1885, Wharton successfully bid a contract with the United States Navy for forged steel armor, and in 1886 he visited England (Whitworth Co.) and France (Schneider Co.) to research the designs for a plant to forge steel of higher quality. With these designs, Bethlehem Iron built the first plant to forge high-strength steel in America. The plant fabricated armor plates and guns for warships. Similar contracts gave the company, renamed the Bethlehem Steel Company, a consistent source of income, and Wharton made slow but steady profits. In 1901 he sold the company but continued to be the largest producer of pig iron in the country because...

    Over several decades, Wharton lobbied successfully in Washington, D.C. for tariff laws protecting U.S. manufacturing. He was a defender of large business and evolved into a staunch Republican. He successfully lobbied for the use of nickel in the U.S. coinage, but his lobbying for nickel tariffs was only partially successful, probably because he had a virtual monopoly on production in the U.S. In 1873 the world was in a very trying economic depression and many industrial firms went bankrupt. Wharton became widely known as a leader of the Industrial League of manufacturing concerns, and the main lobbyist and President of the American Iron and Steel Institute. He was a personal friend and consultant with several presidents including Grant, Hayes, and Harrison. Wharton entertained distinguished internationally-known guests such as biologists Thomas Huxley and Joseph Leidy, astronomer Samuel Langley, scientist Lord Kelvin, Senators James Blaine and Justin Morrill, industrialist Andrew Ca...

    • March 03, 1826
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