Business Magnate, Inventor, Abolitionist. The son of a carriage maker, he was interested in mechanical things. At 16 he worked for a series of jewelers in Philadelphia. During that time he invented a process for gold plating jewelry. Later, he opened his own business. When the jewelry trade went into recession, he started a bookbinding and cloth printing business. He built a steam engine to supply power to his shops, and soon became expert at designing those engines. He married a distant cousin, Sarah C. Baldwin in 1827. They had three children. In 1830 a local museum asked Baldwin to make a working model of the "John Bull," a locomotive, built in England, which had recently been imported to the United States. Given his knowledge of, and success with, steam engines, Baldwin was later asked to build a full size locomotive by the Philadelphia, Germantown, and Norristown Railroad. "Old Ironsides" was the result. Over time he built more locomotives. The same ingenuity which worked in the jewelry and printing businesses contributed to his success in building locomotives. One of his patents was for a high pressure steam engine; another, for a six wheel gear to stabilize locomotives as they turned curves. In 2005, he was posthumously inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame for his work with the steam locomotive. Baldwin also involved himself in social issues. As one of the founders of the Franklin Institute, it was his hope that young people could be encouraged to enter the “mechanical arts.” He also fought for the rights of African-Americans to vote. His activity in the abolition movement resulted in Southern states' boycotting his locomotives. He established a school for African-American children. He also gave 10% of his money to Christian missionary work, and built a number of churches.
Bio by: rjschatz