Henry Faxon was born 28 September 1823, in Quincy. His father, Job Faxon, was a wealthy farmer and merchant. Henry was a descendent in the 8th generation of Thomas Faxn, who immigrated from England in 1647.
Faxon was raised on his father's farm and attended the common school. He was apprenticed to be a shoemaker in 1843, later commencing with his brother John a business of manufacturing shoes and boots.
About 1846, he changed occupations and opened a grocery and provision store in Quincy. He also had a bakery, dealt in real-estate, and was an auctioneer. Around 1855, his firm, Faxon, Wood, and Company, became exclusively wholesalers. Henry speculated in staple merchandise, including whiskey and rum.
This led to his speculating in real estate. He became the largest land-lord in Quincy and also having large property holdings in Boston and Chelsea. He was regarded as an audacious investor, but he obtained astounding successes.
He was elected to the state legislature in 1864 and again in 1871 as a Republican, although this was a "flag of convenience." He tried to maintain a life-long image as a non-partisan. He was known as "a man of rare judgement, of irrepressible energy, [who] hewed to the line of an unshakable purpose.
It was as a member of the legislature that he became interested in the liquor traffic. He became one of the acknowledged leaders of the temperance forces in Massachusetts, and he inaugurated a bold, aggressive policy of active and vigorous war on intemperance wherever intrenched. He persuaded Quincy to create a "Special Police force to enforce the local liquor laws and make him the enforcer. He refused compensation for that work: In his own words, "I want it distinctly understood that it is not for office or honor that I take so active a part in politics, but for the satisfaction of doing what I consider my political duty."
Faxon was a leader in the Reform Club movement in Massachusetts. He paid most of the cost building and equipping "Faxon Hall" in Quincy, the Reform Club headquarters.
He was a strong advocate or Negro rights and of women's rights; he was opposed to granting rights of citizenship to illegal immigrants.
The Boston Herald said of him: "... the broomfield Street campaigner is phenomenal among politicians: he wants no office, and seems activated by no hope of reward other than that satisfaction which comes from a conscientious endeavor to make the world a little better than one has found it."
-- D.H. Hurd (1884) -- History of Norfolk County, Massachusetts: Philadelphia, J. Lewis, pp.376-380. Extracted from a much longer biography. Located by Adam Seaman.