Johns Hopkins Biography

Johns Hopkins was an American entrepreneur and investor who left large endowments in his will to found Johns Hopkins University. This biography of Johns Hopkins provides detailed information about his childhood, life, achievements, works & timeline

Quick Facts

Birthday: May 19, 1795

Nationality: American

Famous: Philanthropists American Men

Died At Age: 78

Sun Sign: Taurus

Also Known As: 约翰·霍普金斯, Хопкинс, Джонс

Born in: Anne Arundel County, Maryland, United States

Famous as: Entrepreneur & Philanthropist

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father: Samuel Hopkins

mother: Hannah Janney

Died on: December 24, 1873

place of death: Baltimore

U.S. State: Maryland

Founder/Co-Founder: Johns Hopkins Medicine

More Facts

education: Baltimore, Maryland, United States

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Johns Hopkins was an American entrepreneur and investor who left large endowments in his will to found Johns Hopkins University and Johns Hopkins Hospital. His generous bequests also helped to form the academic divisions such as Johns Hopkins School of Nursing, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Johns Hopkins Carey Business School, and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health at the Johns Hopkins University. He was born to Quaker parents in late 18th century. His father was a tobacco planter who emancipated his slaves in accordance with Quaker beliefs when the abolitionist movement gained momentum in America. Aged just 12 at this time, Johns was taken out of school to help his parents at the plantation. He learnt the values of hard work and integrity at a young age and grew up to be a principled, disciplined and determined young man. He started helping his uncle with his wholesale grocery business while still a teenager and quickly realized that he was blessed with great business skills. He fell in love with his cousin but was unable to marry her because of social and religious restrictions. He drowned himself in his work to deal with the heartbreak and amassed a great fortune over the years. A kind hearted person who believed in giving back to the society, he left large endowments in his will to found Johns Hopkins University and Johns Hopkins Hospital.

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Childhood & Early Life
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Later Years
  • When he was 17, he left the plantation to work in his uncle Gerard Hopkins' Baltimore wholesale grocery business. He proved himself to be a quick learner and was naturally skilled at conducting business.
  • During his stay at his uncle’s house he happened to fall in love with his teenage cousin and proposed marriage to her. A romantic relationship or marriage between first cousins was a taboo in the Quaker society and his uncle refused to marry his daughter to Johns.
  • In the late 1810s, money was tight and some customers of the grocery business offered to pay for goods with liquor rather than currency. Johns supported this idea while his uncle was against it. This resulted in a bitter disagreement between the two and Johns left his uncle’s business.
  • After leaving his uncle’s business he teamed up with a fellow Quaker, Benjamin Moore and set up a business with him. The business, though initially successful, came to an end after the two young men had an argument regarding capital accumulation.
  • Blessed with an astute business sense, Johns Hopkins did not take long to establish Hopkins & Brothers Wholesalers with three of his brothers in 1819. The business flourished under his able management and soon the brothers were selling various wares in the Shenandoah Valley from Conestoga wagons.
  • He invested the proceeds from the successful business in several ventures including the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad (B&O) and earned considerable wealth. He was so successful as a businessman that he was able to retire at the age of 52 in 1847.
  • He became a director of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad (B&O) in 1847 and chairman of the Finance Committee in 1855. In addition, he was also made president of the Merchants National Bank of Baltimore, and was a director in the First National, Mechanics’ Central, National Union, Citizens’ and the Farmers and Planters’ banks.
Major Works
  • Johns Hopkins was a businessman, railroad man, banker, investor, and philanthropist best remembered for bequeathing vast amounts of his wealth to found two institutions that would bear his name: "Johns Hopkins University" and "The Johns Hopkins Hospital." At the time that it was made, his donation of $7 million was the largest philanthropic bequest in the history of the United States.
Philanthropic Works
  • Johns Hopkins was someone who believed in giving back to the society. Following the end of the Civil War, epidemics of yellow fever and cholera ravaged several cities in the United States, killing hundreds. During this time he realized the need for better medical facilities in his city.
  • He was also a noted abolitionist, totally dedicated to the cause. He worked closely with two of America's most famous abolitionists, Myrtilla Miner and Henry Ward Beecher before the Civil War and played an instrumental role in implementing President Lincoln's emancipatory vision in the post war period.
  • In 1870, he made a will in which he bequeathed $7 million for the incorporation of a free hospital and affiliated medical and nurse's training colleges, as well as an orphanage for colored children and a university.
  • In accordance with his will, the Johns Hopkins Colored Children Orphan Asylum was established in 1875, and the Johns Hopkins University was founded in 1876. The Johns Hopkins Hospital, Johns Hopkins School of Nursing, the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and the Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health were also established a few years later.
Awards & Achievements
  • Johns Hopkins ranked 69th in "The Wealthy 100: From Benjamin Franklin to Bill Gates - A Ranking of the Richest Americans, Past and Present" in 1996.
Personal Life & Legacy
  • As a young man he fell deeply in love with his cousin Elizabeth and wanted to marry her. However, marriage between cousins was considered a taboo in the Quaker society and the couple was not allowed to marry. Both Johns and Elizabeth never married anyone else and remained lifelong friends.
  • Johns Hopkins lived to be 78 and died on December 24, 1873, in Baltimore, Maryland, United States.

See the events in life of Johns Hopkins in Chronological Order

How To Cite

Article Title
- Johns Hopkins Biography
- Editors,
Last Updated
- January 29, 2017
Johns Hopkins

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