Godfrey Lowell Cabot

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Godfrey Lowell Cabot
Godfrey Cabot.png
Godfrey Cabot (left) presenting a trophy to Secretary of the Navy
BornFebruary 26, 1861
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.[1]
DiedNovember 2, 1962 (age 101)[1]
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
EducationHarvard University (SB Chemistry, 1882)
ChildrenJames Jackson Cabot
Thomas Dudley Cabot
John Moors Cabot
Eleanor Cabot

Godfrey Lowell Cabot (February 26, 1861 – November 2, 1962)[1] was an American industrialist who founded the Cabot Corporation.

Early life[edit]

Godfrey Lowell Cabot was born in Boston, Massachusetts and attended Boston Latin School. His father was Dr. Samuel Cabot III, an eminent surgeon, and his mother was Hannah Lowell Jackson Cabot.[1] He had seven siblings:[2] three being, Lilla Cabot (b. 1848), among the first American impressionist artists, Samuel Cabot IV[3] (b. 1850), chemist and founder of Cabot Stains, and Dr. Arthur Tracy Cabot (b. 1852), a progressive surgeon.[4]

Cabot attended Massachusetts Institute of Technology for a year, before graduating from Harvard College with a SB in Chemistry,[5] in 1882.[1] He was a famous aviation pioneer and World War I U.S. Navy pilot.[1] He also founded the Aero Club of New England.


Cabot founded Godfrey L. Cabot, Inc. and its successor, Cabot Corporation, in 1882.[6] It became an industrial empire which included carbon black plants and tens of thousands of acres of land rich in gas, oil, and other minerals; 1,000 miles (1,600 km) of pipeline; seven corporations with worldwide operations; three facilities for converting natural gas into gasoline; and a number of research laboratories.

By 1890, Cabot Corporation, had become America's fourth largest producer of carbon black, which was used in products, such as inks, shoe polishes, and paints. But with the subsequent advent and popularity of cars, carbon black became in much greater demand as six pounds of it was required in the production of a single tire, and Cabot's incomes soared.

Philanthropic work[edit]

Cabot was also a significant benefactor of MIT, primarily in solar research, resulting in important discoveries in photochemistry, thermal electricity, and in the construction of experimental solar houses. He also established the Godfrey L. Cabot Award for the advancement of aviation, Harvard's Maria Moors Cabot Foundation for Botanical Research, the annual Maria Moors Cabot prize awarded by the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, as well as an endowed professorship at the institution. In 1973, Harvard's Godfrey Lowell Cabot Science Library was named in his honor.[7]

Cabot was associated with Calvin Coolidge from Coolidge's Boston days.[8] There is also an audio recording of a discussion between Cabot and Dwight D. Eisenhower on the influence of public opinion on government policy, communism, the Soviet Union, aviation, and V-2 rockets in 1950, kept by the Miller Center of Public Affairs.[9][10]

K. queenslandicus at Harvard University which may have been reconstructed with too many vertebrae

While in his nineties, Cabot sponsored the restoration of the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology's (MCZ) complete Kronosaurus skeleton. Having been interested in sea serpents since childhood[11] and thus often questioning MCZ director Alfred Romer about the existence and reports of sea serpents, it thus occurred to Dr. Romer to tell Mr. Cabot about the unexcavated Kronosaurus skeleton in the museum closet. Godfrey Cabot thus asked how much a restoration would cost and "Romer, pulling a figure out of the musty air, replied, 'Oh, about $10,000.'" Romer may not have been serious but the philanthropist clearly was because the check for said sum came shortly thereafter.[12][13]

Watch and Ward Society[edit]

Cabot also devoted his resources to the controversial activist organization known as the New England Society for the Suppression of Vice in Boston. Before Cabot's involvement, the society had made its mark by helping instigate obscenity charges against Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass. Under Cabot's direction the organization renamed Watch and Ward Society used economic, social, and legal pressures and even harassment techniques to block the sale and distribution of books which they disapproved of for moral reasons. Among the writers to which they objected were Conrad Aiken, Sherwood Anderson, John Dos Passos, Theodore Dreiser, William Faulkner, Ernest Hemingway, Aldous Huxley, James Joyce, Sinclair Lewis, Bertrand Russell, Upton Sinclair, and H. G. Wells.

While president, he wiretapped wiretapped the office of district attorney Joseph C. Pelletier.[14] Cabot justified the recording device by saying he needed incriminating evidence to remove Pelletier from office.[15] The Society had also hired a private detective to keep the district attorney under surveillance for two years.[15] The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court found Pelletier guilty of 10 of the 21 charges against him and removed him from office.[16]

Personal life[edit]

On June 23, 1890, Cabot married Maria B. Moors.[1] They had five children:[17]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "MHS Godfrey Lowell Cabot Papers, 1870–1962: Guide to the Collection". Massachusetts Historical Society. Retrieved July 28, 2010.
  2. ^ A Cyclopedia of American Medical Biography: Comprising the Lives of Eminent Deceased Physicians and Surgeons from 1610 to 1910. W.B. Saunders Company. 1920. Retrieved July 30, 2011.
  3. ^ The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography: Being the History of the United States, Volume XIV. James T. White & Company. 1910. Retrieved August 15, 2011.
  4. ^ Biographical History of Massachusetts: Biographies and Autobiographies of the Leading Men in the State, Volume II. Massachusetts Biographical Society. 1913. Retrieved July 28, 2011.
  5. ^ "Senior trustee, Thomas D. Cabot, dies at 98". MIT News. June 21, 1995. Retrieved July 26, 2011.
  6. ^ "The History of Cabot Corporation". Cabot Corporation. Retrieved July 26, 2011.
  7. ^ "Cabot Science Library: History". Harvard College Library. Retrieved August 26, 2011.
  8. ^ Clemens, Cyril (June 1945). "COOLIDGE'S "I DO NOT CHOOSE TO RUN": GRANITE OR PUTTY?". The New England Quarterly. 18: 147–163. JSTOR 361282. Pg. 154–155.
  9. ^ "Dwight D . Eisenhower meeting with Godfrey Lowell Cabot October 10, 1950 in New York City" (PDF). Miller Center of Public Affairs. Retrieved July 29, 2011.
  10. ^ "Dwight D. Eisenhower – Pre-Presidential Recordings: Meeting with Godfrey Lowell Cabot". Miller Center of Public Affairs. Archived from the original on June 6, 2011. Retrieved July 29, 2011.
  11. ^ About the Exhibits by Elizabeth Hall and Max Hall (Museum of Comparative Zoology "Agazziz Museum" Harvard University. Third Edition, Copyright 1964, 1975, 1985, by the President and Fellows of Harvard College
  12. ^ The Rarest of the Rare: Stories Behind the Treasures at the Harvard Museum of Natural History (Hardcover) – October 26, 2004
  13. ^ About the Exhibits by Elizabeth Hall and Max Hall (Museum of Comparative Zoology "Agazziz Museum" Harvard University. Third Edition, Copyright 1964, 1975, 1985, by the President and Fellows of Harvard College
  14. ^ Kauffman, Christopher J. (1982). Faith and Fraternalism: The History of the Knights of Columbus, 1882–1982. Harper and Row. p. 241. ISBN 978-0-06-014940-6.
  15. ^ a b Kauffman 1982, p. 242.
  16. ^ "Court Removes Pelletier: Guilty on 10 of the 21 Charges --Gov Cox Will Name His Successor Tomorrow". The Boston Daily Globe. February 22, 1922.
  17. ^ Marquis, Albert Nelson (1915). Who's Who in New England: A Biographical Dictionary of Leading Living Men and Women of the States of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut. A.N. Marquis & Company. p. 198. Retrieved February 12, 2018.
  18. ^ McG THOMAS Jr, ROBERT (June 10, 1995). "Thomas Cabot, 98, Capitalist And Philanthropist, Is Dead". The New York Times. Retrieved February 12, 2018.
  19. ^ "Thomas Cabot, 98, Capitalist And Philanthropist, Is Dead". The New York Times. June 10, 1995. Retrieved July 26, 2011.
  20. ^ "The Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum Finding Aids: C". Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum. Retrieved July 28, 2011.
  21. ^ Town & Country, Volumes 75–76. Town & Country. February 20, 1919. Retrieved July 28, 2011.

Further reading[edit]

  • Leon Harris, Only to God: The Extraordinary Life of Godfrey Lowell Cabot (1967).
  • Webster Bull, My Father, My Brother: A History of Godfrey L. Cabot Inc. (1986).