This is the history of Washington Duke and two of his sons, Benjamin Newton Duke and James Buchanan Duke. Although numerous other members of the family play their parts in the story it focuses primarily on the three men who were at the center of the economic and philanthropic activities which made the Dukes of Durham one of America's famous families. The Dukes operated closely and constantly as a family, and only in that context is their full story told.
In the years after the Civil War, Washington Duke proved to be an unusually able industrialist and a conscientious, Methodist philanthropist. He was, in fact, a major Southern pioneer in both industry and philanthropy. His two sons by a second marriage were remarkably devoted to each other as well as to their father. Both sons also reflected traits of thier father. While Benjamin N. Duke and James B. Duke had life-long involvement with the business world—first in tobacco, then textiles, and finally electric power—as well as with philanthropy, they actually developed complementary specializations. Benjamin N. Duke, the older of the two, served as the family's primary agent for philanthropy from his early manhood in the late 1800's until he gradually became semi-invalid after 1915. James B. Duke, on the other hand, early displayed a marked talent, even a genius, for business. Toward the end of his life, with the establishment of The Duke Endowment late in 1924, he emerged as one of the nation's major philanthropists, ranking alongside Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller. A central theme of this book is, however, that the Endowment, despite its magnitude and far-reaching scope, was essentially the institutionalization and culmination of a pattern of family philanthropy that emerged in the 1890's and for which the older brother, Benjamin N. Duke, had always been the primary agent. Thus, the story of James B. Duke, who was and has remained much the more well-known of the two brothers, cannot properly be told out of the family context from which he emerged and in which occurred most of the important phases of his life.
Washington Duke, as a small, land-owning yeoman farmer, was typical of the great majority class not only in antebellum North Carolina but in the South as a whole. Only after the war, when he and his sons emerged as large-scale industrialists and philanthropists, did the Dukes become atypical. Their story is, then, both agricultural and industrial, both Southern and national. Born North Carolinians, they moved onto a national, even global, stage. Yet all the while they kept deep roots, as well as vast investments of capital, in the Old North State, and they poured many millions into philanthropy, largely in the two Carolinas. Based largely on manuscript sources, many of them hitherto unused, this is the first study of the Duke family. The "New South," as recent historians have told us, may not have been so new—but it was certainly different in important ways, and the Dukes loomed large among those who helped to make it so.
Like the majority of the founders of large philanthropic foundations in the United States, James B. Duke assumed that the Duke Endowment, which he established in 1924, would continue its charitable activity forever. Lasting Legacy to the Carolinas is an examination of the history of this foundation and the ways in which it has—and has not—followed Duke’s original design.
In this volume, Robert F. Durden explores how the propriety of linking together a tax-free foundation and an investor-owned, profit-seeking business like the Duke Power Company has significantly changed over the course of the century. Explaining the implications of the Tax Reform Act of 1969 for J. B. Duke’s dream, Durden shows how the philanthropist’s plan to have the Duke Endowment virtually own and ultimately control Duke Power (which, in turn, would supply most of the Endowment’s income) dissolved after the death of daughter Doris Duke in 1993, when the trustees of the Endowment finally had the unanimous votes needed to sever that tie. Although the Endowment’s philanthropic projects—higher education (including Duke University), hospitals and health care, orphan and child care in both North and South Carolina, and the rural Methodist church in North Carolina—continue to be served, this study explains the impact of a century of political and social change on one man’s innovative charitable intentions. It is also a testimony to the many staff members and trustees who have invested their own time and creative energies into further benefiting these causes, despite decades of inevitable challenges to the Endowment.
This third volume of Durden’s trilogy relating to the Dukes of Durham will inform not only those interested in the continuing legacy of this remarkable family but also those involved with philanthropic boards, charitable endowments, medical care, child-care institutions, the rural church, and higher education.
In this rich and authoritative history, distinguished historian Robert F. Durden tells the story of the formation of Duke University, beginning with its creation in 1924 as a new institution organized around Trinity College. As Durden reveals, this narrative belongs first and foremost to Duke University's original President, William Preston Few, whose visionary leadership successfully launched the building of the first voluntarily supported research university in the South. In focusing on Duke University's most formative and critical years—its first quarter century—Durden commemorates Few's remarkable successes while recognizing the painful realities and uncertainties of a young institution. Made possible by a gift from James B. Duke, the wealthiest member of the family that had underwritten Trinity College since 1890, Duke University was organized with Few as president. Few's goal was to turn Duke into a world-class institution of higher education and these early years saw the development of much of what we know as Duke University today. Drawing on extensive archival material culled over a ten-year period, Durden discusses the building of the Medical Center, the rebuilding of the School of Law, the acquisition of the Duke Forest and development of the School of Forestry, the nurturing of the Divinity School, and the enrichment of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. It was also during this period, as Durden details, that such treasures as the Sarah P. Duke Gardens were created, as well as some near treasures, as seen by the failed attempt to start an art museum. Although the story of the birth of this University belongs largely to William Preston Few, other people figure prominently and are discussed at length. Alice Baldwin, who led in the establishment of the Woman's College, emerges as a fascinating figure, as do William H. Wannamaker, James B. Duke, William Hanes Ackland, Robert L. Flowers, Justin Miller, and Wilburt Cornell Davision, among others. Although impressive growth occurred in Duke's formative years, tensions also arose. The need to strike an institutional balance between the twin demands of teaching and research, of regional versus national status, combined with continual shortages of funds, created occasional obstacles. The problem of two sets of trustees, one for the university and another for the Duke Endowment, loomed largest of all. As Few himself said, during these early years Duke successfully embarked on a long journey, for it was not until after World War II that Duke University consolidated the growth begun in the inter-war years. An important contribution to the history of Southern higher education as well as to Duke University, this book will be of great interest to historians, alumni, and friends of Duke University alike.