Swift, Gustavus Franklin

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Swift, Gustavus Franklin

biographical name

(born June 24, 1839, West Sandwich, Mass., U.S.—died March 29, 1903, Chicago, Ill.) U.S. meatpacker. Swift started as a butcher's helper at age 14 and by 1859 was operating his own butcher shop. In 1872 he became the partner of a Boston meat dealer; three years later he transferred their cattle-buying operations to Chicago. Believing profits would increase if fresh meat rather than live cattle were shipped from Chicago, he had a refrigerator car designed and made his first shipment in 1877. With his brother he formed Swift & Co. (1885). During his 18 years as president, its capitalization rose from $300,000 to $25 million. Like his rivals Philip D. Armour and Nelson Morris, Swift was a leader in byproduct utilization, entering related businesses such as soap, glue, fertilizer, and margarine.

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