Who was James B. Duke?

1 Answer
Apr 8, 2016

James B. Duke was a tobacco and electric power industrialist who is well-known for the introduction of the modern cigarette and his work with Duke University.


Born in 1856 in North Carolina, Duke and his family were among the first cigarette manufacturers in the South. The Duke's revolutionized the tobacco business, using heavy machinery and advertising for the first time to increase production and profits. Duke merged several leading companies together with his own to limit competition in the field. His company was dissolved years later by the government under the Sherman Antitrust Act.

Duke quickly moved on to another idea, the hydroelectric development of the Carolinas. He built one of the largest hydroelectricity production companies of the South. It is still around today, called Duke Energy.

James Duke then devoted huge amounts of his considerable fortune to charity, earning him an excellent reputation. He donated $40 million to help orphans, hospitals, universities, and Methodist churches.