Alvin Adams

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Alvin Adams
Alvin Adams.jpg
BornJune 16, 1804
DiedSeptember 1, 1877(1877-09-01) (aged 73)
Known forfounder of Adams and Company

Alvin Adams (June 16, 1804 – September 1, 1877) was the founder of Adams and Company, a forerunner to Adams Express, one of the first companies to act as a carrier for express shipments by rail in the United States. Adams and Company provided shippers with a complete shipping solution, picking up goods at the shipper's location, carrying them to the railroad terminal, and then delivering them from the distant railroad terminal to the recipient's door.


Alvin Adams circa 1850

Alvin Adams was born on June 16, 1804 in Andover, Vermont.[1] A produce merchant ruined by the Panic of 1837, in 1839, Adams began carrying letters, small packages and valuables for patrons between Boston and Worcester, Massachusetts. On May 4, 1840 he established his first express freight route between Boston and New York under the name Adams and Company.[2] The company established offices in Boston and New York, and soon added express routes to Baltimore, Maryland, Norwich, Connecticut, Worcester, Massachusetts, Washington, D.C., Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Cincinnati, Ohio, Louisville, Kentucky, and St. Louis, Missouri.[2][3] Adams and Company started out by hauling mail for the nascent postal service, until that business was suspended by the US Government in 1845; in that year the transportation of mail was transferred to solely government-owned entities.

In 1854 Adams and Company merged with three other express agencies, Harnden and Company, Thompson and Company, and Kinsley and Company to form the Adams Express Company, with Adams as the president of the new company.[2][4] The company was initially capitalized with $1,200,000.[5] He was succeeded in 1855 by George Washington Cass.[6]

Alvin Adams died September 1, 1877 in Watertown, Massachusetts.[2] The company that he formed still exists, headquartered in Baltimore, Maryland.


  1. ^ Toomey, pp 246.
  2. ^ a b c d Toomey, ibid.
  3. ^ Stimson, pp 55-56.
  4. ^ Depew, pp. 139.
  5. ^ Stimson, pp. 59.
  6. ^ The New York Times, March 22, 1888.


  • Depew, Chauncey Mitchell (1895). "1795-1895. One Hundred Years of American Commerce". D.O. Haynes: 139. Retrieved 2007-12-26. alvin adams president adams express. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  • Stimson, Alexander Lovett (1881). "History of the Express Business". Baker & Godwin, printers: 51. Retrieved 2007-12-26. alvin adams. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  • Toomey, Daniel P. (1892). "Massachusetts of Today: A Memorial of the State, Historical and Biographical". Columbia Publishing Co.: 246. Retrieved 2007-12-26. alvin adams. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  • White, John H. Jr. (Spring 1986). "America's Most Noteworthy Railroaders". Railroad History. 154: 9–15. ISSN 0090-7847. JSTOR 43523785. OCLC 1785797.
  • "Alvin Adams, The Expressman; The Business Success That Made Him and His Two Associates Millionaires". The New York Times. September 5, 1877. Retrieved 2011-09-25.
  • "Death of George W. Cass; The Long and Honorable Career of a Son of Ohio". The New York Times. March 22, 1888. Retrieved 2007-12-26.
  • "The Adams Express Company, 150 Years" (pdf). Adams Express Company. 2004. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2005-01-17. Retrieved 2005-03-28.

External links[edit]

Business positions
Founder of company President of Adams Express
Succeeded by
George Washington Cass