Hazard, Rowland, 1829-1898
After graduation from Brown University with distinction in 1849, he lived a life filled with business success, travel, political involvement, and civic activity. In addition to his direction of the Peace Dale Manufacturing Company, a large woolen textile firm, he acquired a huge lead mine in Missouri in 1875 where he introduced improved methods of mining and smelting ore. This company’s “Anchor Brand” of lead drew its name from the anchor on Rhode Island’s state flag. In 1881 he organized the Solvay Process Company in Syracuse, New York and introduced to America its product, called soda ash.
In government, Rowland presided for many years as South Kingstown’s town moderator. He also served as the town’s state representative (1863-64) and state senator (1867-69). He received a plurality of votes for governor in 1875 while running as an independent and prohibitionist. At this time, however, a majority vote was required and the General Assembly chose runner-up Henry Lippitt as the state’s chief executive.
Among his many talents Hazard was a skilled architect who designed several buildings and beautiful stone bridges in Peace Dale and chaired the building committee for the John Carter Brown Library at Brown University where he was a longtime trustee, a fellow, and a benefactor.
Devoutly religious, he organized the Second Congregational Church in Peace Dale and served for four decades as its deacon. In 1872 he designed and built a church for the congregation and added a chapel to it in 1895 dedicated to the memory of his wife Margaret.
Rowland was a prolific writer on economic, philosophical, and scientific themes and a noted orator. He was for many years the president of the Washington County Agricultural Society and gave its annual address at the South County Fair. He also gave a memorable address near the end of his life at the laying of the cornerstone of the present State House in Providence.
As a wealthy and powerful industrialist during an era of corporate revolution, he became the antithesis of the so-called “Robber Baron.” He treated his mine and factory workers generously with concern for their safety and comfort. At Peace Dale he introduced a system of profit sharing for his employees. According to a contemporary assessment, “labor troubles were unknown” at his various business enterprises.
Rowland died on August 16, 1898 leaving two illustrious children: educator and author Caroline Hazard and civic leader and humanitarian Rowland Gibson Hazard II, a man who maintained the traditions of his grandfather and namesake as well as those of his illustrious father.
– (Dr.) Patrick T. Conley