Pratt, Enoch

Pratt, Enoch

(1808–96) iron merchant, capitalist, philanthropist; born in North Middleborough, Mass. He worked as a clerk in Boston before he moved to Baltimore (1831). He ran a wholesale iron establishment for many years and was a leader of the Maryland Steamboat Company (1872–92). He also engaged in banking and insurance. He supported the (unpopular) Union cause in Baltimore during the Civil War. He used his wealth to support many causes, including the improvement of conditions of African-Americans, but his most notable benefaction was establishing the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore. Andrew Carnegie later said he was influenced by Pratt's example of branch libraries.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.