Henry F. Lippitt

Inducted: 1987
Born: 10/12/1856
Died: 12/23/1933

Henry F. Lippitt came from an old and distinguished American family. In 1638, John Lippitt of Warwick, England, arrived in Rhode Island. He bought one of the original home lots in Providence and was instrumental in organizing the colony. Lippitt’s family fought in the American Revolution, attended St. John’s Episcopal Church, farmed the land around Warwick, and eventually became known for cotton manufacturing. Lippitts built the third cotton mill in Rhode Island in 1807.  Christopher Lippitt commanded Rhode Island troops in the Revolution.

Henry F. Lippitt was the son of Rhode Island Governor Henry Lippitt and the brother of Rhode Island Governor Charles W. Lippitt. He was also a great-uncle of John H. Chaffee and a great-great uncle of Lincoln D. Chaffee, both U.S. Senators and governors of Rhode Island. Lippitt served as United States Senator from Rhode Island from March 4, 1911, to March 3, 1917. While in the Senate, he was chairman of the Committee on Expenditures in the Department of Agriculture. The state legislature had elected Lippitt, an unsuccessful candidate for reelection, in 1916 following the passage of the Seventeenth Amendment, which provided that U.S. Senators be chosen by popular vote.

Lippitt was born in Providence on October 12, 1856, the son of Henry and Mary (Balch) Lippitt. His father, Henry Lippitt, was the 33rd Governor of Rhode Island from 1875 to 1877. Lippitt attended Mowry & Goff’s private school in Providence and received his Bachelor of Arts from Brown University in 1878. He was president of his graduating class and admitted to membership in Phi Beta Kappa.

After graduation, Lippitt joined his family’s cotton textile manufacturing business. He was director of the Slater Trust Company of Pawtucket and several mill insurance companies. He was also vice president of the People’s Savings Bank of Providence and a director of the Mechanics National Bank. He served on the Governor’s staff with the rank of colonel. He was also president of the New England Cotton Manufacturers’ Association in 1889. He was Chairman of the Board of the Manville-Jenckes tire fabric company of Pawtucket.

He married Lucy Hayes Herron Laughlin in 1881, and the couple had four children: Louise, Henry, Frances, and John.  Following the death of his first wife, Lippitt married Lucy Laughlin in 1915. She was the sister of First Lady Helen Taft. They had two children: Rhode Island politician and philanthropist Frederick Lippitt and aviator Mary Ann Lippitt.

Henry was a member of the Squantum Association, Hope Club, Agawam Hunt Club, Rhode Island Yacht Club, New York Yacht Club, Larchmont Yacht Club, and the University Club of New York. He was also a member of the New England Cotton Manufacturers’ Association and the Rhode Island Society of the Sons of the American Revolution.

Henry F. Lippitt died on Dec. 28, 1933. He was inducted into The Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame in 1987.

For additional reading:

  • “Henry F. Lippitt, Fibre and Fabric,” Frederick L. Babcock, Jos. M. Wade Publishing Co., Jan. 21, 1911.
  • United States Congress, “Henry F. Lippitt, Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.

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