Henry W. Moulton of Newburyport had hoped to continue his studies, fostering his love for literature and the arts. Due to poor health, however, he was unable to fulfill this wish. Instead he travelled through Central America and California for a year. While in California he met many Chinese immigrants with whom he built lasting friendships. These friendships also inspired a lifelong interest in China.
Moulton went to Newburyport at the age of twenty and started a paint and drug business that did very well. When the Civil War broke out he served in the 32nd Massachusetts Infantry. After the war he was appointed United States Marshall of Idaho and lived there for several years before returning to Newburyport where he began in the real estate business. He tried to establish a carriage manufacturing factory and also to have the University of Modern Languages settled in Newburyport, but both ventures failed. He remained in the real estate business for twenty-five years. On 13 May 1896, Moulton died.