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Gardiner Greene Hubbard : biography

August 25, 1822 - December 11, 1897

Gardiner Greene Hubbard (August 25, 1822 – December 11, 1897) was a U.S. lawyer, financier, and philanthropist. He was one of the founders of the Bell Telephone Company and the first president of the National Geographic Society.


Gardiner Hubbard's life is detailed in the book 'One Thousand Years of Hubbard History', by Edward Warren Day.Edward Warren Day. , 1895.

In 1890, Mount Hubbard on the Alaska-Yukon border was named in his honour by an expedition co-sponsored by the National Geographic Society while he was president.

The main school building at the Clarke School for the Deaf, Hubbard Hall, is named after him in his honor.

Hubbard's house on Brattle Street in Cambridge (on whose lawn, in 1877, Hubbard's daughter Mabel married Alexander Graham Bell) no longer stands. But a large beech tree from its garden still (in 2011) remains. After he moved to Washington, D.C. from Cambridge in 1873, Hubbard subdivided his large Cambridge estate. On Hubbard Park Road and Mercer Circle (Mercer was his wife's maiden name) he built large houses designed for Harvard faculty. On nearby Foster Street, he built smaller houses, still with modern amenities, for "the better class of mechanic." This neighborhood west of Harvard Square in Cambridge is now both popular and expensive. For construction dates of individual houses, see and

To service his then-modern Cambridge house, Hubbard wanted gas lights, the then-new form of illumination. So he founded the Cambridge Gas Company, now part of NStar.

After his move to Washington, Hubbard helped to found the National Geographic Society and served as its first president. Today, its Hubbard Medal is given for distinction in exploration, discovery, and research. (See ) In 1897, he also helped to rescue the A.A.A.S, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (founded in 1848) from financial peril and extinction by enabling its purchase of the (then privately owned) "Science" magazine. (See )


Born in Boston, Massachusetts, he attended Phillips Academy, Andover and graduated from Dartmouth in 1841. Hubbard studied law at Harvard, and was admitted to the bar in 1843. He lived in the adjoining city of Cambridge and joined a Boston law firm. He practiced his profession in Boston until 1873, when he relocated to Washington, D.C. Gardiner Hubbard's father Samuel Hubbard was a Massachusetts Supreme Court justice. Gardiner Hubbard helped establish a city water works in Cambridge, was a founder of the Cambridge Gas Co. and later organized a Cambridge to Boston trolley system.

He was also a descendant of Lion Gardiner, an early English settler and soldier in the New World who founded the first English settlement in what later became the State of New York. His legacy includes Gardiners Island which remains in the family. Hubbard was also a grandson of Boston merchant Gardiner Greene.National Geographic Magazine, Feb. 1898.

Hubbard married and had six children: Robert Hubbard (1847-1849); Gertrude Hubbard (1849-1886); Mabel Gardiner Hubbard (1859–1923); Roberta Hubbard (1859-1885); Grace Hubbard (1865-1948); and Marian Hubbard (1867-1869).1860 US Census Gardiner Hubbard's daughter Mabel became deaf at the age of five from scarlet fever.Shulman, Seth. 2008. The Telephone Gambit: Chasing Alexander Graham Bell's Secret, New York: W. W. Norton & Co., p. 63. She later became a student of Alexander Graham Bell, who taught deaf children, and they eventually married. Hubbard also played a pivotal role in the founding of Clarke School for the Deaf, the first oral school for the deaf in the United States located in Northampton, Massachusetts.

Hubbard argued for the nationalization of the telegraph system (then a monopoly of the Western Union Company, as he explained) under the U.S. Postal Service stating in an article: "The Proposed Changes in the Telegraphic System","The Proposed Changes in the Telegraphic System", The North American Review, July 1873, Vol. 117, No. 240, pp. 80-107. "It is not contended that the postal system is free from defects, but that it removes many of the grave evils of the present system, without the introduction of new ones; and that the balance of benefits greatly preponderates in favor of the cheap rates, increased facilities, limited and divided powers of the postal system."

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