Biography and History

Based in New York City, Enoch Morgan's Sons Company was founded in 1809; its best known product was Sapolio soap, first put on the market in 1869. Enoch Morgan married a daughter of the firm's founder, David Williams, and Morgan's three sons -- John Williams, William Henry, and George Frederick -- eventually took over the business. The firm was incorporated on April 14, 1876, with John Williams Morgan as president. Upon his death in 1881, he was succeeded by his youngest brother, George Frederick Morgan (1846-1925), who presided over the company during the height of its success. Much of the success was credited to the hiring of Artemas Ward as the firm's advertising manager in 1885. A pioneer of modern advertising and publicity, Ward made Sapolio a household name. By depicting the name and product in a fanciful scene and using clever poems and captions to sing its praises, Ward succeeded in blending promotion with diversional amusement. Today, Sapolio advertisements culled from old magazines are collector's items. In 1892, Ward achieved his greatest advertising exploit: to send Captain William Albert Andrews, a trans-Atlantic sailor and piano-maker, from Atlantic City to Palos, Spain in a fourteen-foot boat named "Sapolio." Though Andrews had made this voyage before in a twenty-foot boat with his brother, the "Sapolio" was nothing but a canvas-covered, folding, collapsible boat. This fact attracted much attention by the press, and generated free advertising for Sapolio. Ward planned the event to coincide with the celebration of Columbus' voyage 400 years earlier, and exhibited the seaworthy "Sapolio" afterwards at the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893.

George Frederick Morgan's elder son, John Williams Morgan (1895-1964) and a member of the Princeton Class of 1916, succeeded his father as company president and held the position until 1949. He was a career U.S. Army Reserve officer who served in both World Wars and retired with the rank of Major General. He also was president of the Cox Gelatine Company, a subsidiary of Enoch Morgan's Sons. His only son, George Frederick Morgan (1922-2004), was a poet and co-founder of The Hudson Review literary magazine and a member of the Princeton Class of 1943 (please refer to Series 8 of The Hudson Review Archives collection (C1091) for the bulk of the personal correspondence, financial documents and other items relating to the Morgan family that have been integrated from this collection into that one).

Source: From the finding aid for C1098

  • Enoch Morgan's Sons Co. Collection. 1844-1987 (inclusive).

    Call Number: C1098

    Consists of records of the nineteenth-century New York City-based soap manufacturer Enoch Morgan's Sons Company, including business records, correspondence, and advertising and promotional materials for Sapolio soap, its best known product.