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James Duke

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James Buchanan Buck Duke (1856-1925) was member of North Carolina's powerful Duke tobacco family. He was born near Durham,NC and was educated near his home and in New York.

Duke was a pioneer in implementing machinery to roll cigarettes. He became president of the American Tobacco Company in 1890 when he was just 33 years old. Duke was fascinated with the idea of hydro-electric power, the process of using water to generate electricity. He consulted engineer William States Lee and Dr. W. Gill Wylie, and in 1904 founded the Southern Power Company, headquartered in Charlotte. It ultimately became Duke Power Company.

James Buchanan Duke was known for his elegant tastes. By 1919 he owned a home on Fifth Avenue, in New York City as well as the Charlotte mansion called White Oaks. Duke's contributions supported numerous charitable institutions, including Davidson College and Johnson C. Smith University, and created the Duke Endowment.

He divorced his first wife, Lillian McCredy and later married a widow. The Dukes had one daughter, Doris Duke, who inherited her parents' immense wealth. James Buchanan Duke is buried on the grounds of Duke University, the school heavily endowed by and named for his family.