Johns Hopkins was born in Anne Arundel County, Maryland in 1795. In 1807 his parents died and he was not able to continue his education. He lived in Baltimore, Maryland and worked as a wholesale grocer. He acquired a fortune from his business. He helped organize the B & O Railroad.
Johns Hopkins never married. When he died in 1873, he left over eight million dollars to start a hospital and college. Today we know them as Johns Hopkins University and Johns Hopkins Hospital.