Boston University School of Law

Owen D. Young

Class of 1896

Owen D. Young Class of 1896Owen D. Young was born in Van Hornesville, New York and educated at St. Lawrence University. Though admitted to Harvard Law School, he accepted a full tuition scholarship to Boston University School of Law and a job in the law library. He completed the three-year course in two years and graduated in 1896. Following graduation he was admitted to the Massachusetts Bar, and accepted a position with an eminent Boston lawyer. Young represented the electrical engineering firm of Stone & Webster, which brought him to the attention of the President of General Electric, who offered Young a position as Chief Counsel and Vice President in Charge of Policy in 1913.

Thereafter his successes were meteoric; he became president of General Electric in 1922 and was Chairman of the Board until 1939. He was the first chairman of the Radio Corporation of America. In 1924, he was one of the chief architects of the Dawes Plan which established the policy for German reparations following World War I, and in 1929 was named chair of the committee set up to revise the Dawes Plan. The committee created the Young Plan for the fiscal rehabilitation of Germany, one of the greatest diplomatic feats ever accomplished. Young served as a diplomat for five U.S. Presidents, making international history from 1919 to 1930.

By 1930, Young was frequently mentioned in The New York Times and had twice been on the cover of TIME magazine, including once as "Man of the Year" in 1929. Young's honors included seventeen honorary degrees, the Order of the Rising Sun of Japan, and the French Legion of Honor.

Young’s death in 1962 was international news. In The London Times, his friend Sir Andrew McFadyean, who served with Young on the Dawes Committee, wrote, “He had a great and spontaneous charm and I cannot imagine anyone working with or for him who would not quickly come to feel both respect and real affection for a great American.”

For biographical information:  Ida M. Tarbell, Owen D. Young, A New Type of Industrial Leader (1932); Josephine Young  Case and Everett Needham Case, Owen D. Young and American Enterprise, A Biography (1982); Time Magazine, February 23, 1925;  Time Magazine, January 6, 1930;  The New York Times, June 12, 1962; and The London Times, June 18, 1962.