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James Buchanan Duke: Wikis


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James Buchanan Duke
Born December 23, 1856(1856-12-23)
Durham, North Carolina
Died October 10, 1925 (aged 68)
New York City, New York
Resting place Duke University
Spouse(s) Lillian Fletcher McCredy (m. 1904–1906) «start: (1904)–end+1: (1907)»"Marriage: Lillian Fletcher McCredy to James Buchanan Duke" Location: (linkback:
Nanaline Holt Inman (m. 1907–1925) «start: (1907)–end+1: (1926)»"Marriage: Nanaline Holt Inman to James Buchanan Duke" Location: (linkback:
Children Doris Duke
Parents Washington Duke
Relatives Benjamin Newton Duke, brother

James Buchanan Duke (December 23, 1856 – October 10, 1925) was a U.S. tobacco and electric power industrialist best known for his involvement with Duke University.


Personal life

James Buchanan Duke, known by the nickname "Buck", was born near Durham, North Carolina, on December 23, 1856 to Washington Duke and his second wife, Artelia Roney Duke.[1] Duke was married twice, the first in 1904 to Lillian Fletcher McCredy, but they divorced in 1906 and had no children. In 1907 he married the widow Nanaline Holt Inman, with whom he had his only child, a daughter, Doris, born November 22, 1912. Doris was raised at Duke Farms, where her father had worked with landscapers such as James Greenleaf (a member of the firm of Frederick Law Olmsted), and Horatio Buckenham to transform more than 2,000 acres (8 km2) of farmland and woodlots into an extraordinary landscape. containing 2 conservatories, 9 lakes, 35 fountains, 45 buildings, countless pieces of sculpture, over 2 miles (3 km) of stone walls and more than 18 miles (29 km) of roadway [2]. James Buchanan Duke died in New York City on October 10, 1925 and is interred with his father and brother in the Memorial Chapel on the campus of Duke University.

Business career

Washington Duke (1820-1905), had owned a tobacco company which his sons James Buchanan Duke and Benjamin Newton Duke (1855-1929) took over in the 1880s. In 1885, James Buchanan Duke acquired a license to use the first automated cigarette making machine (invented by James Albert Bonsack), and by 1890, Duke supplied 40% of the American cigarette market (then known as pre-rolled tobacco). In that year, Duke consolidated control of his four major competitors under one corporate entity, the American Tobacco Company, which was a monopoly in the American cigarette market.

At the start of the 1900's, Duke tried to conquer the British market as he had done America, eventually forcing the then divided British manufacturers to merge into the Imperial Tobacco Company of Great Britain and Ireland, Ltd (Imperial Tobacco). After two years of intense competition in Great Britain, Imperial Tobacco took the fight to the US market, forcing American Tobacco to look for a settlement. This resulted in an agreement whereby American Tobacco controlled the American trade, Imperial Tobacco controlled the trade in the British territories, and a third, cooperative venture named the British-American Tobacco Company was set up between the two to control the sale of tobacco in the rest of the world. During this time, Duke was repeatedly sued by business partners and shareholders. In 1906, the American Tobacco Company was found guilty of antitrust violations, and was ordered to be split into three separate companies: American Tobacco Company, Liggett and Myers, and the P. Lorillard Company.

In 1908 the Tobacco War started with the Dukes trying to take over all small tobacco companies and farmers crops from Kentucky and Tennessee. His thugs raided their properties and destroyed most of their possessions if they didn't agree to sell at the prices Duke offered. A brave leader from Kentucky named Dr. David Amos started a revolutionary group called the night riders, with over 1,000 members, mostly tobacco farmers. They destroyed most of Duke's tobacco as warning not to mess with Kentuckians' and Tennesseans' possessions.

In 1892, the Dukes had opened their first textile firm in Durham, North Carolina that was run by Benjamin Duke. At the turn of the century, Buck Duke organized the American Development Company to acquire land and water rights on the Catawba River. In 1904, he established the Catawba Power Company and the following year he and his brother founded the Southern Power Company which became known as Duke Power, the precursor to the Duke Energy conglomerate. The company supplied electrical power to the Duke's textile factory and within two decades, their power facilities had been greatly expanded and they were supplying electricity to more than 300 cotton mills and other industrial companies. Duke Power established an electrical grid that supplied cities and towns in the Piedmont Region of North and South Carolina. Lake James, a power-generating reservoir in Western North Carolina, was created by the company in 1928 and named in Duke's honor.

In 1911, the United States Supreme Court upheld an order breaking up the American Tobacco Company's monopoly. The company was then divided into several smaller enterprises, of which only the British-American Tobacco Company remained in Duke's control. After his death in 1925, there was a great deal of controversy, and some historians suspect that some resentful Imperial Tobacco executives were feeling some anger at Duke for having lost the Tobacco War between Duke's company and Imperial Tobacco.

Philanthropy and Wills

Statue of James B. Duke in front of the Duke Chapel.

In December 1924, Duke established The Duke Endowment, a $40 million trust fund (about $430 million in 2005 dollars), some of which was to go to Trinity College. The University was renamed "Duke University" in honor of his father. The "James B. Duke Library," the main campus library at Furman University is also named in his honor.

On his death, he left approximately half of his huge estate to The Duke Endowment which gave another $67 million (about $725 million in 2005 dollars) to the trust fund. In the Indenture of Trust, Duke specified that he wanted the Endowment to support Duke University, Davidson College, Furman University, Johnson C. Smith University; not-for-profit hospitals and children's homes in the two Carolinas; and rural United Methodist churches in North Carolina, retired pastors, and their surviving families.

The remainder of Duke's estate, estimated at approximately $100 million (about $1 billion in 2005 dollars), went to his twelve-year-old daughter, Doris, making her "the richest girl in the world"[3]. Doris sued her mother for control of the Duke Farms estate and won. Associating Duke Farms with fond memories of her father, Doris Duke made few major changes to the property other than the adaptation of her father’s Conservatory to create Display Gardens in his honor[4] . These Gardens showcased her father's extensive sculpture collection and were open to the public from 1964 until closed by her Foundation Trustees in May 2008[5].


  1. ^ "The Duke Family and its Legacy". Duke Endowment. Retrieved 2008-06-02. 
  2. ^ "History". Duke Farms. Retrieved 2008-02-11. 
  3. ^ Pace, Eric (1993-10-29). "Doris Duke, 80, Heiress Whose Great Wealth Couldn't Buy Happiness, Is Dead". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-05-07. 
  4. ^ "The Gardens at Duke Farms". Skylands Visitor Guide. Retrieved 2008-06-02. 
  5. ^ Duke Farms (2008-03-02). "Duke Farms Promotes “Greener” Future". Press release. Retrieved 2008-04-14. "it’s the final months of the gardens being on display in the greenhouses that have enchanted visitors since 1964" 

Further reading

  • Robert Sobel The Entrepreneurs: Explorations Within the American Business Tradition
  • (Weybright & Talley 1974), Chapter 5, James Buchanan Duke: Opportunism Is the Spur
  • Robert F. Durden Bold Entrepreneur: A Life of James B. Duke (Carolina Academic Press, 2003)
  • John Wilber Jenkins James B. Duke: Master Builder (George H. Doran Company 1927)


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