Historic, but not famous

Isaac Leopold Rice, founder Forum Publishing and Battery Company

Isaac Leopold Rice (1850 – 1915) was a  businessman, investor, musicologist, author, and noted chess patron. He was born in Bavaria and emigrated to the United States with his mother in 1856. They initially lived in Philadelphia where he attended school, but upon graduation he went to Paris to study music for 3 years. He returned and worked at a newspaper then moved to England  in 1868 to be a music and language teacher. A year later he moved to New York City and practiced music before going back to school to become a lawyer. After graduating from Columbia College of Law in 1880 he practiced law for the rest of the decade.

He became a specialist in railroad law in the United States, and held large investments in several lines, including the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad. While a lawyer he was invited to join a music publishing company and decided to do that as well as diversify his railroad holdings. He eventually bailed out the bankrupt Electro-Dynamic Company in 1892 with a partner and became the first president of The Forum magazine, and later the Electric Storage Battery Co. (later Exide) in 1897.

He bought out a company that made the first successful electric submarine and named the company  the Electric Boat Company in 1899. He contracted with the US Navy and delivered a fleet of submarines to them. Electric Boat was a founding company of General Dynamics Corporation. During World War I, Rice’s new company (Electric Boat) and its subsidiaries (notably Elco) built 85 Navy submarines and 722 submarine chasers, along with 580 motor launches for the British Royal Navy.

He also wrote and published books on music and music theory as well as becoming an accomplished chess master and president of the Manhattan Chess Club.

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