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for Duke, Washington, 1820-1905
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Washington Duke rose from a yeoman farmer with little formal education to become one of North Carolina's great industrialists and philanthropists of the 19th-century.
James B. Duke and his brother Benjamin N. Duke are both well known for their accomplishments and philanthropies. But little has been said about the modest and retiring father of the famous Duke boys. Yet Washington Duke was the original Rockefeller of our state; and the two men had much in common, as both were born to poverty and both rose to power in the business world as a result of their own efforts.
Using W. Duke & Sons tobacco factory as the focal point, this article delivers a brief history of early cigarette manufacturing in North Carolina. Making cigarettes in their factories gave Duke & Sons a new market with less competition than the solely tobacco growing competition.
The Dukes were a preeminent family in North Carolina because of the family's massive fortune and charitable deeds. Washington Duke, father of James Buchanan and Benjamin N., was an enterprising man and laid the groundwork for the Duke family fortune. The fortune was built on exceptional smoking tobacco grown and sold by Washington Duke following the Civil War.