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Dalton, Charles Henry, 1826-1908



  • Existence: 1826 September 25 - 1908 February 23

Biographical Note

Charles Henry Dalton, the younger brother of John Call Dalton, was born in Chelmsford, Massachusetts, on September 25, 1826. Dalton served as Treasurer of the MIT Incorporators and went on to become a member of the MIT Corporation. The Dalton family first settled in the United States in the mid-1700s, during which James Dalton (born 1718) worked from Boston as the captain of the trading Brigantine “Joshua.” Dalton later expanded his business to include trade routes between the Carolinas, the West Indies, and Europe.

Charles Henry Dalton decided to forego college in favor of work, and his aptitude for business aided him in climbing quickly to prominence. As such he acted as an officer for a wide range of New England-based companies and organizations throughout his life. He was treasurer of the Manchester Print Works, Great Falls Manufacturing Company, and the Merrimac Manufacturing Companies, president of the Massachusetts General Hospital, Cumberland Coal Company, and Legal Aid Society, vice president of the New England Trust Company, Provident Institution for Savings, and Arkuright Club, director of the Massachusetts Hospital Life Insurance Company and Suffolk Bank, chairman of the Boston Park Commission, and a member of the Massachusetts Historical Society, Union Club, Sanitary Commission, and the Boston Transit Commission.

During the Civil War, Dalton was appointed Agent of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts at Washington. This followed a failed attempt to get involved in the war as an advisor to President Lincoln, which Dalton sold as an opportunity to use his presence “to help quell a disturbance” should one arise in Washington. Still, he was determined to lend a hand, being what his contemporaries called an “ardent Northerner.” Dalton’s work as Agent of the Commonwealth consisted chiefly in handling matters relating to distribution of supplies to troops, and his services greatly helped the war effort. After his stint in D.C. ended, Dalton briefly considered applying for a post on the war front itself. However, out of worry that he would not be chosen, he instead ceased his involvement with the Civil War altogether. Later in life, Dalton established the Dalton Graduate Chemical Scholarship Fund ($5000) at MIT in 1896. The grant was made especially for students looking to apply chemistry to the textile industry. He passed away in Boston on February 23, 1908. His Civil War correspondence with his brother can be found at the Massachusetts Historical Society.

Biography from: “Signers of the 1861 ‘Act of Association,’” MIT History, accessed May 28, 2021,

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

William Barton Rogers papers

Identifier: MC-0001
Abstract This collection contains the personal correspondence of William Barton Rogers, the founder of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Family and professional correspondence, notes, articles, lectures, clippings, and drafts of articles on scientific topics, documents relating his philosophy on science and technology education, and many antecedent documents relating to the establishment and early years of MIT are included. An important part of the collection is drafts of...
Dates: 1804 - 1950; Majority of material found within 1834 - 1882