Pioneer in the Chicago meat packing business and a renowned grain trader and speculator.
1829-1899 | Artist: Ernest Sigmund Klempner (1867-1941)
Impact & Accomplishments
Benjamin P. Hutchinson’s first enterprise was shoe manufacturing, in his birth state of Massachusetts. He moved to Chicago in 1858, and with partners, formed the first meat packing business in that city: Burt, Hutchinson and Snow.
When Union Stock Yards opened, the firm relocated there. His second firm, Chicago Packing & Provision Company, established in 1872, grew to be the largest meat processing company in the United States, until Armour and Swift surpassed it.
Hutchinson was one of the first stockholders in the First National Bank of Chicago, and he founded the Corn Exchange Bank in 1870, serving as president for several years, before turning the helm over to his son. Hutchinson shifted his focus away from packing and toward the grain markets, becoming a fixture on the Board of Trade in 1880. “Old Hutch” became the leading grain speculator in America until 1891, when he registered major losses.
Did You Know?
It was said of Hutchinson that "he inaugurated the system which now saves and turns into money everything then termed waste by the packers. "
He was a born trader with all the shrewdness but with none of the conservatism of his New England forebears. In his day he was the Napoleon of commodity speculation. - Excerpt from the History of the Board of Trade of the City of Chicago
He was implacable with those who had tried to crush him, but so great was he in the market, says the historian of the Board, that "whenever the old gentleman became engaged in conversation with any one, business in the pit stopped."
By the mid-1870s, when its several hundred employees handled 400,000 or more hogs per season, Hutchinson's Chicago Packing & Provision Co. was the leading meat processor in the United States. In 1880, the company employed as many as 1,600 people at once to produce over $8 million worth of meat during the year.