The second child and eldest son of Frances Isaacs and Harmon Hendricks, Uriah was named for his paternal grandfather, the Dutch-born progenitor of the family’s American branch who died five years before he was born. By the time of his birth, his father had already become a successful copper trader, able to provide the best advantages to his growing brood of children. Uriah and his siblings had multiple tutors, were educated in five languages (Latin, Greek, French and Spanish, in addition to Hebrew), and had access to their father’s burgeoning library of encyclopedias, scientific works and texts on practical mechanics. Under their father’s tutelage, they also developed a sense of communal responsibility and obligation. Harmon Hendricks was proud of all his children, but particularly mindful of young Uriah, whom he sent to Columbia to further his education.
On completing his studies at Columbia, Uriah (now 18) joined the Soho Copper Works, which his father owned and operated in partnership with his brother-in-law, Solomon Isaacs. Under his uncle’s supervision, Uriah soon learned the ins and outs of copper manufacture and after six years in training, he was ready to assume greater responsibility. In 1826, he married Frances (Fanny) Tobias and set up household at Belleville, New Jersey, on the company’s estate. The following year, when the partnership between his uncle and father dissolved, Uriah and his younger brother Henry joined the firm as partners and within three years the company was renamed Hendricks & Brothers under Uriah’s leadership. Uriah moved back to New York in order to manage the company’s affairs from its business office, leaving his younger brother Montague and a brother-in-law to manage the copper mill. Hendricks led the family enterprise for more than three decades, and brought three of his four sons into the firm to continue the tradition into a third generation. He was renowned in his own lifetime for his self-discipline and reserve. He ignored the social trappings to which his wealth entitled him, eschewing membership in exclusive private clubs, corporate directorships and public office but maintaining his commitments to the Jewish community at large. In 1866, when six major fire insurance companies adopted a confidential resolution to no longer accept “Jew risks,” Hendricks publicly exposed them, an action which led to open protests by Jews across the country and an eventual reversal of the move by the companies. Hendricks died just three years later, at age 67, survived by his wife and 16 of his 17 children.