James Buchanan "Buck" Duke

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This article is part of the Tobacco portal on Sourcewatch funded from 2006 - 2009 by the American Legacy Foundation.


James Buchanan "Buck" Duke took over the American Tobacco company from his father, Washington Duke, in the 1880s. Buck Duke was the first tobacco purveyor to license the first automated cigarette rolling machine called the Bonsack cigarette rolling machine and apply it to the commercial production of cigarettes. Shortly after, Buck Duke controlled 40% of the national cigarette market.

In the 1890s, Duke entered into an agreement with his British competitors to divide the cigarette market, with Duke controlling the American trade, the British companies controlling the trade in British territories, and a third, cooperative venture between the two - the British American Tobacco Company - controlling the sale of tobacco to the rest of the world. During this time, Duke was repeatedly sued by business partners and shareholders who alleged that he had engaged in shady, self-serving business deals. In 1906 the American Tobacco Company was found guilty of antitrust violations, and was ordered to be split into three separate companies: American Tobacco Company, Liggett & Myers, and the P. Lorillard Tobacco Company.

Buck gave tens of millions of dollars to Trinity University, which was renamed Duke University in honor of his and his family's philanthropy.

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