Biography of Stephen Girard
Famous American Biographies





STEPHEN GIRARD, the celebrated philanthropist, was born in Bordeaux, France, May 24, 1750. He became a sailor engaged in the American coast trade, and also made frequent trips to the West Indies. During the Revolutionary war he was a grocer and liquor seller in Philadelphia. He married in that city, and afterward separated from his wife. After the war he again engaged in the coast and West India trade, and his fortuiie began to accumulate from receiving goods from West Indian planters during the insurrection in Hayti, little of which was ever called for again. He became a private banker in Philadelphia in 1812, and afterward was a director in the United States Bank. He made much money by leasing property in the city in times of depression, and upon the revival of industry sub leasing at enormous profit. He became the wealthiest citizen of the United States of his time.

He was eccentric, ungracious, and a freethinker. He had few, if any, friends in his lifetime. However, he was most charitably disposed, and gave to charitable institutions and schools with a liberal hand. He did more than any one else to relieve. the suffering and deprivations during the great yellow fever scourge in Philadelphia, devoting his personal attention to the sick. He endowed and made a free institution, the famous Will's Eye and Ear Infirmary of Philadelphia, one of the largest institutions of its kind in the world. At his death practically all his immense wealth was bequeathed to charitable institutions, morethan two mi]lions of dollars going to thefoundidg of Girard College, which was to be devoted to the education and training of boys between the ages of six and ten years. Large donations were also made to institutions in Philadelphia and New Orleans. The principal building of Girard College is the most magnificent example of Greek architecture in America. Girard died December 26, 1831.


FROM:
A Biographical Record
Of Schuyler County, New York
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company
New York and Chicago 1903.


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