Israel Thorndike

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Israel Thorndike
Born (1755-04-30)April 30, 1755
Beverly, Massachusetts
Died May 9, 1832(1832-05-09) (aged 77)
Boston, Massachusetts
Occupation Cooper, privateer, shipping magnate, real estate speculator, manufacturer
Organization Brown and Thorndike
Net worth USD $1.8 million at the time of his death (approximately 1/674th of US GNP)[1]
Spouse(s) Mercy Trask, Anna Dodge, Sarah Dana

Israel Thorndike (1755–1832) was a sailor and merchant, born in Beverly, Massachusetts. He went to sea at an early age, commanded a privateer during the American Revolution, and became active in the early China trade. He was elected to the Massachusetts legislature 13 times. In 1810 he moved to Boston, and his mansion became a center for political and social discourse. The term "gerrymander" is attributed to the outcome of a dinner party at Thorndike's Boston home in February 1812, "where Elkanah Tisdale, a miniature painter, drew wings on the salamander shaped map of the new Republican-leaning election district in Essex County."[2] A member of the Federalist Party, he belonged to its Essex Junto.

In 1814 he sailed the 14 gun vessel Hyder Ally from Portland, Maine on a privateering voyage to the East Indies. She had a crew of 30 and carried sixteen guns: 10 18-pounder carronades, two long 18-pounders, and two long 9 pounders. Apparently some of her armament may have come from HMS Boxer. In May, HMS Owen Glendower captured the Hyder Ally off the Nicobars. The American had already taken two prizes, and sent them back to the US, but the Royal Navy later intercepted both and retook them, one at Cape Elizabeth, Maine and the other at Mount Desert Island.[3]

Thorndike is considered to have been the fiftieth wealthiest American of all time (adjusted for inflation), having left an enormous fortune.[1]


  1. ^ a b Klepper, Michael; Gunther, Michael (1996), The Wealthy 100: From Benjamin Franklin to Bill Gates—A Ranking of the Richest Americans, Past and Present, Secaucus, New Jersey: Carol Publishing Group, p. xii, ISBN 978-0-8065-1800-8, OCLC 33818143 
  2. ^
  3. ^ Ellis (2009), 90-1.
  • Ellis, James H. (2009) A Ruinous and Unhappy War: New England and the War of 1812. (New York: Algora).

External Resources[edit]

Public Domain This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.