Benjamin Newton Duke

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Benjamin Newton Duke
Born(1855-04-25)April 25, 1855
DiedJanuary 8, 1929(1929-01-08) (aged 73)
Spouse(s)Sarah Pearson Angier
ChildrenMary Lillian Duke
Angier Buchanan Duke
Parent(s)Washington Duke
Artelia Roney
RelativesJames Buchanan Duke (brother)
Benjamin N. Duke House in New York City

Benjamin Newton Duke (April 25, 1855 – January 8, 1929) was an American tobacco, textile and energy industrialist and philanthropist.

Life and career[edit]

He was the son of industrialist Washington Duke and half-brother to Brodie Leonidas Duke (1846–1919), as well as being the full brother of James Buchanan Duke (1856–1925).

On February 21, 1875, Benjamin Duke married Sarah Pearson Angier, with whom he had a daughter, Mary Lillian Duke, and a son, Angier Buchanan Duke. Portraits of all four members of the family were commissioned from the Spanish painter Joaquín Sorolla in 1911.

He entered his father's tobacco business, and in 1890 became vice-president of the American Tobacco Company. In 1892, the Duke family opened their first textile business in Durham, North Carolina, with Benjamin Duke at its head.

In 1905, he and his brother James founded the Southern Power Company, which later became known as Duke Energy. The company initially supplied electrical power to the Duke textile factory. Within two decades, their power facilities had been greatly expanded, and they were supplying electricity to more than 300 cotton mills and other industrial companies through an electrical grid that supplied cities and towns in the Piedmont Region of North and South Carolina.

In 1908, he had his half brother Brodie declared incompetent and taken to a sanitarium [1]

Benjamin Duke and his brother were major contributors to the economic growth of the North Carolina economy and would expand into other areas with sizable investments in railroads and banks.

Benjamin was a primary benefactor of Trinity College after it relocated to Durham in 1892. Over the years, he donated substantial funds for improvements, additions, and scholarships. Between 1926 and 1929, he donated approximately $3,000,000 (more than $30,000,000 in 2005 dollars) to twenty-seven different southern institutions of higher learning. Today, Duke University offers the B. N. Duke Scholars program.

Following his death at his home in New York City in 1929, Benjamin Duke's remains were brought back to North Carolina for interment with his father and brother James in Memorial Chapel in the Duke University Chapel on the campus of Duke University.[2]


  1. ^ "Duke's Divorced Wife Guilty of Defrauding". The Gazette Times. 13 August 1908. Retrieved 13 August 2018.
  2. ^ "B. N. Duke, 73, Dies After Long Illness. Benjamin N. Duke". The New York Times. January 9, 1929. Benjamin N. Duke, the last of the famous Duke tobacco family, which built a one of the largest American fortunes of the nineteenth century and then gave most of it away in philanthropy, died at 5:45 o'clock yesterday morning at his home, 2 East Eighty-ninth Street.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Media related to Benjamin N. Duke House at Wikimedia Commons