He was born in Newburyport, Massachusetts, the son of John Lowell (1743-1802) and Susanna Cabot (1754-1777).
He studied the textile industries of Lancashire and Scotland while visiting the British Isles in 1810-2. On his return to the United States, he joined his brother-in-law Patrick Tracy Jackson and Nathan Appleton to found the Boston Manufacturing Company in Waltham, Massachusetts (1812; factory built 1813-14), the world's first textile mill in which all the operations for converting raw cotton into finished cloth could be performed.
With Paul Moody he devised an efficient power loom and spinning apparatus.
He died in Boston, Massachusetts.