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Wanamaker, John

WANAMAKER, JOHN (1838- ), American merchant, was born, of Palatine-Huguenot stock, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on the nth of July 1838. He attended a public school in that city until he was fourteen, then became an errand boy for a book store, and was a retail clothing salesman from 1856 until 1861, when he established with Nathan Brown (who afterward became his brother-in-law) the clothing house of Wanamaker & Brown, in Philadelphia, the partnership continuing until the death of Brown in 1868. In 1869 Wanamaker founded the house of John Wanamaker & Company; and in 1875 bought the Pennsylvania Railroad Company's freight depot at Thirteenth and Market streets, and in the following year opened it as a dry goods and clothing store, subsequently much enlarged. In September 1896 he acquired from Hilton, Hughes & Company the former New York store of A. T. Stewart, and thereafter greatly enlarged it and added a new building; this, and the Philadelphia store, are among the largest department stores in the United States. Mr Wanamaker was postmaster-general in President Benjamin Harrison's cabinet in 1880-1893, and brought about the establishment of post-offices on ocean-going vessels. He early identified himself with religious work in Philadelphia; was the first paid secretary, in 1857-1861, of that city's Young Men's Christian Association, of which he was president in 1870-1883, and in 1858 founded, and thereafter served as superintendent of, the Bethany (Presbyterian) Sunday School, one of the largest in the world. He took an active part in the movement which resulted in the formation of the United States Christian Commission in 1861.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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