Philip Danforth Armour (1832-1901)

Philip Danforth Armour, of Chicago, Illinois

He was born in Stockbridge, New York. He tried to make his fortune in California during the Gold Rush but returned back north empty-handed. He opened a wholesale grocery business in Milwaukee before going into business with a meat-packer. In 1867, having correctly predicated the end of the Civil War and the need for meat, he established Armour & Co., at Chicago, operating a slaughterhouse. Rather than disposing of the off-cuts of meat, Armour had the idea to incorporate them into other products such as glue, lard, gelatin, soap, glycerin, grease, fertilizer etc. In 1883, Armour incorporated the Armour Refrigerated Line that made railroad cars for transport of their products across the country. By 1900, the company owned 11,000 refrigerated carriages. However, the reputation of the firm was damaged in 1898 when it was charged with selling tainted meat. This inspired Upton Sinclair to write "The Jungle" (1906) which exposed the dark side of the meatpacking industry. Philip died in 1901 and the company was continued by his second son, Ogden. During the First World War, Armour & Co. became the most profitable business in the country, turning over a colossal $1 billion in one year alone. But, a series of poor business decisions saw Ogden lose $150 million in less than a decade. He lived at 2115 Prairie Avenue, Chicago, and had two sons.
Contributed by Mark Meredith on 25/07/2019 and last updated on 03/04/2022.