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Entries : Philip Armour and the Packing Industry
Philip Armour and the Packing Industry

Philip Armour and the Packing Industry

Philip Armour built Chicago's largest meatpacking company and was an important philanthropist. Born on a New York farm in 1832, he spent time in the California gold fields before joining a provision firm and then a packing company in Milwaukee. The success of Chicago's Union Stock Yard (1865) convinced him that the future of meatpacking lay in that city. He and his brothers formed Armour & Co. in 1867 and started packing hogs in a rented plant on the South Branch of the Chicago River.

Armour purchased land west of the stockyards in 1872 and built a large pork plant. He and his family moved to Chicago three years later. By reinvesting profits over the next quarter century, Armour & Co. expanded its pork operation and added dressed beef, meat canning, and the manufacture of oleomargarine, glue, fertilizer, and other byproducts. It also acquired packing plants in Kansas City and Omaha, branch sales offices across the country, and refrigerated railroad cars to deliver chilled, fresh beef. Like other Chicago packers, Armour resisted trade unions and helped defeat strikes in 1886 and 1894.

A generous contributor to scores of organizations, his chief philanthropic interest lay in training young people. Armour Mission (1886), a nondenominational community center, sponsored classes and activities for children. Armour Institute (1893), later changed to Illinois Institute of Technology, taught engineering, architecture, and library science to high-school graduates at nominal cost.

Philip Armour died in January 1901. His son, J. Ogden Armour, succeeded him as head of the vast enterprise in Chicago.