[Extracted from] HORRORS OF VACCINATION EXPOSED AND ILLUSTRATED BY CHAS. M. HIGGINS
LIFE SKETCH OF JOHN PITCAIRN
BY A Philadelphia Friend
John Pitcairn, who became President of The Anti-Vaccination League of America when it was organized in Philadelphia, on October 21, 1908, was one of America's foremost men of affairs. He was born on January 10, 1841, at Johnstone near Paisley in Scotland. In 1846 his parents removed to the United States and settled in Allegheny City, now a part of Pittsburgh; and there he received an elementary education in the public schools. At the age of fourteen he began his business career in the office of the Superintendent of the Pennsylvania Railroad, at Altoona. In subsequent years he became Assistant to the Superintendent of the Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne & Chicago Railroad, and Assistant to the Superintendent of the Philadelphia Division of the Pennsylvania Railroad, On February 22, 1861, he had charge of the train that conveyed Abraham Lincoln from Harrisburg to Philadelphia, on the way to the Presidential inaugural at Washington; and when the Confederates invaded Pennsylvania before the Battle of Antietam he and his brother, Robert Pitcairn, were sent by Colonel Thomas A. Scott, then Assistant Secretary of War, to Chambersburg, to take charge of the train service for the Government. He afterward became Assistant Superintendent of the Middle Division of the Pennsylvania Railroad and Superintendent of the Middle Division of the Philadelphia & Erie Railroad. He built the Imperial Refinery at Oil City; and while associated with H. L. Taylor & Company, then the largest producers of oil in America, was engaged in the production, refining and pipe line transportation of oil. He was also a member of the firm of Vandergrift, Pitcairn & Company, and, with Mr. Vandergrift, built and controlled the first pipe line for the utilization of natural gas for manufacturing purposes and controlled the Natural Gas Company, Limited. In 1883, Mr. Pitcairn, in association with Captain John B. Ford and others, organized the Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company, of the Board of Directors of which he was the Chairman until 1897, when he purchased the interests of the Fords and became the President of the Company; this office he resigned in 1905, again becoming Chairman of the Board. The capital was originally $600,000; this was increased at various times until it reached $2,750,000; later it became $ 10,000,000 and finally, $22,750,000, all representing real values. Mr. Pitcairn was also President of the C. H. Wheeler Manufacturing Company, the Loyal Hanna Coal and Coke Company, and the Pittsburgh Valve and Fittings Company, and a Director of the Central National Bank of Philadelphia, the Columbia Chemical Company, the Michigan Chemical Company, the Natural Gas Company of West Virginia, and the Owosso Sugar Company. In these important business connections and in many other fields of successful enterprise, he remained unremittingly active until the autumn of 1915, when he suffered an attack of pneumonia, from the after effects of which he died, at his residence, "Cairnwood," Bryn Athyn, Pa., on July 22, 1916.
During the last ten years of his life, Mr. Pitcairn was to a great extent the guiding spirit of the anti-vaccination movement in America. It would be impossible to chronicle his activities in its behalf without writing a voluminous history. In 1908 Mr. Pitcairn made possible by his liberality a National Anti-Vaccination Conference, which held its sessions in Griffith Hall, Philadelphia, on October 19, 20 and 21 of that year, and which led to the organization of The Anti-Vaccination League of America. To The Ladies Home Journal for May, 1910, he contributed an article on 'The Fallacy of Vaccination' which has reached several million readers. On December 1, 1911, he was appointed by Governor Tener a member of the Pennsylvania State Vaccination Commission, and in this capacity on March 12, 1913, he rendered his report, which is a clear, scholarly and readable contribution to the literature of anti-vaccination.
Mr. Pitcairn's personal attributes were the natural products of his Scotch ancestry, his vigorous constitution, and his training in the school of experience, matured by close association with many of the most eminent minds of his time, extensive travels, and broad culture. He had an innate love of freedom, and hatred of injustice and oppression; and these high qualities of his character were enlivened by a keen sense of humor and deepened by positive religious convictions. As a practical man, his faculties of perception were clear, his deductions were accurate, his judgment of values was correct, and he was constant in the pursuit of his purposes. But above all, he was a man of independence in thought, of moral courage in action, and magnetic and winning in his personality, so that it has been well said of him, as Sir Walter Scott said of Roderick,
"One blast upon his bugle horn Were worth a thousand men!'
The office of The Anti-Vaccination League of America is at 1420 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, Pa. Mr. Porter F. Cope, Secretary; Mr. C. Oscar Beasley, Vice-President.
The office of The National Anti-Vaccination League, London, is at 25 Denison
House, Vauxhall Bridge Road, London, S. W. Miss L. Loat, Secretary.