Girard, Stephen

Girard, Stephen
born May 20, 1750, Bordeaux, France
died Dec. 26, 1831, Philadelphia, Pa., U.S.

French-born American financier and philanthropist.

He became a sailor at age 14; by 1774 he was commanding a French ship involved in American coastal trade with the West Indies. He settled in Philadelphia during the American Revolution and resumed trading in 1783. He developed an efficient, worldwide trading fleet and amassed a fortune. In 1812 he bought out the Bank of the United States, renaming it the Bank of Stephen Girard. During the War of 1812 he purchased government bonds, which by 1814 constituted 95% of the U.S.'s war loan. He bequeathed his fortune to social-welfare institutions, including Stephen Girard College for male orphans (founded 1833).

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▪ American financier
born May 20, 1750, Bordeaux, France
died December 26, 1831, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
 American financier and philanthropist whose purchase of government bonds during the War of 1812 provided economic support for continuation of U.S. military campaigns.

      Girard shipped out to sea at the age of 14 and by 1774 was captain of a ship involved in U.S. coastal trade with the West Indies. Stymied by British blockades of U.S. seaports during the Revolutionary War (1775–83), he settled in Philadelphia but resumed maritime trading after the war. He developed a worldwide trading fleet and scrupulously efficient business methods that laid the foundation of his fortune. In 1812 he bought out the first Bank of the United States, after its charter had expired. He renamed it the Bank of Stephen Girard, which became known as the “sheet anchor” of government credit during the War of 1812. Toward the end of the war, when U.S. credit was at its lowest ebb, his subscription for 95 percent of the government war loan issue enabled the United States to carry on the war. Subsequently he was one of Philadelphia's most noted civic leaders.

      Girard bequeathed nearly his entire fortune to social welfare institutions, including an endowment for a Philadelphia college for male orphans, founded as the Stephen Girard College in 1833.

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Universalium. 2010.

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  • GIRARD, STEPHEN —    a philanthropist, born at Bordeaux; in early life followed the career of a seaman and rose to be captain of an American coast trader; in 1769 set up as a trader in Philadelphia, and in course of time establishing a bank, accumulated an immense …   The Nuttall Encyclopaedia

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  • Stephen Girard Park — is a convert|4|acre|m2|sing=on park in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in the South Philadelphia neighborhood at 21st and Shunk Streets. It is maintained by the city of Philadelphia s Department of Recreation. The park was established in 1953 on land …   Wikipedia

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