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the edifice was to rival the ancient palace of the Cæsars, and the gardens were to be Fields of Elysium. The plan was beyond his means, and unsuited to the country: he broke down under it, and the patriot who had lavished his wealth for his country in her hour of need, died in Phil. adelphia in 1806, at the age of 73, insolvent. The marbles of the unfinished palace now form part of the uniform rows of houses in Sansom-street.
Girard College. The Girard College is situated near the Ridge road, about two miles northwest from the Exchange. This splendid establishment was commenced in 1833. The corner-stone of the principal edifice was laid on the 4th July of that year, by Nicholas Biddle, Esq., chairman of the trustees, who delivered an address on the occasion. All the buildings are to be of marble. The central edifice, erected after the design of Thomas U. Walter, Esq., is in the form of a temple of the Corinthian order, 160 feet by 217, including the porticoes ; and, when finished, will be one of the most magnificent buildings in the world. Whether it is strictly in accordance with Stephen Girard's taste, character, and design, is another questionstill unsettled in the public mind.
This edifice contains the more important public halls of the institution. The smaller buildings on each side are designed for the lodging and study rooms of the pupils. It is now ten years since the corner-stone was laid, and only the two buildings seen on the left of the annexed view are completed. The main part of the great temple is erected, and the side porticoes—the pediments, and end porticoes, and interior, being still incomplete ; and the foundations are not yet laid of the two buildings on the right. No pupils have yet been admitted.
Stephen Girard was born of very humble parents, near Bordeaux in France, on the 24th May, 1750. Such education as he ever had, he must have picked up in the world at large. He commenced his career at the age of ten or twelve--leaving France for the first and last time, as a cabin boy, bound to the W. Indies. Thence he went to New York, and sailed for some years between there and the W. Indies and New Orleans, as cabin-boy, sailor, mate, and eventually master and owner. Having made some money, he started a small shop in Water-street, Philadelphia, in 1769, and in 1770 married a pretty girl, the daughter of a caulker. He lived with her some twenty years : but not very happily, on account of his own asperity of temper. She became insane in 1790, and died in the Philadelphia Hospital in 1815. An only child died in infancy. After his marriage he continued business in Water-street, occasionally going as master of his own vessels—in one of which he was captured on a voyage to St. Domingo. He came
home poor, and started a little cider and wine bottling shop in Water-street, aided by his wife, the year before the revolutionary war. He was a friend to the revolution, and removed to Mount Holly while the British occupied Philadelphia. About the year 1782 he took on lease a number of stores on Water-street, which proved a profitable operation,-and afterwards went into business with his brother, Capt. John Girard, who came out from France. They drove a profita. ble trade with St. Domingo ; and at their dissolution (for they could not agree) John was worth $60,000, and Stephen $30,000. After this he went largely into the St. Domingo trade; and, while a brig and schooner of his were lying at Cape Françoise, the great revolt of the negroes occurred. Many planters, in the panic, removed their valuables on board his vessels, and again returning to the shore, were cut off by the negroes. Whole families thus perished together; and Mr. Girard, by the most extensive advertising, could never ascertain the heirs of the wealth (said to be about $50,000) that thus fell into his hands. His next commercial enterprises were in the East India trade, in which he had several ships, and acquired a large fortune. At the expiration of the charter of the old United States Bank in 1810-11, he purchased, through the Barings, is London, about $500,000 of that stock; and not long afterwards--purchasing the banking-house of the institution in Third-st., and making an arrangement with the former cashier, Mr. George Simpson-he started his own private bank in May, 1812, with a capital of $1,200,000. This was a bold step at the opening of the war with Great Britain-yet the specie was never refused for a bank-note of Stephen Girard's. When the new U. S. Bank was started, in 1816, he waited until the last moment before the subscription books closed, and then, inquiring if all that wished had subscribed, he coolly took the balance of the stock, amounting to $3,100,000 ; some of which he afterwards parted with. By the subsequent rise of this stock his fortune was immense. ly augmented. His own bank was continued till his death, when it had accumulated a capital of $4,000,000. The bank was afterwards chartered by the legislature as the Girard Bank, with individual stockholders; and has since failed. Mr. Girard died of influenza, on the 26th Dec. 1831, at his residence in Water, above Market street.
Stephen Girard was exceedingly plain in his dress and personal appearance. He was always blind of one eye; and in middle life might be mistaken for a stout sailor, and in maturer Fears for a plain old farmer. His dwelling-house was under the same roof with his counting-house, in Water-street-a neighborhood occupied entirely by stores ; and his furniture was of the plainest kind. His equipage was an old chaise and a plain farm-horse. He indulged in no pleasures, or scenes of social life; had no one with whom he sympathized as a friend; and when his sympathies were exercised at all, they seemed to be for masses of men, and not for individuals, for future generations, and not for the present. He had a sort of instinctive fondness for giving med. ical advice; and when the yellow-fever desolated the city, in 1793, regardless of danger, he spent his whole time in personal attendance upon the sick, in all parts of the city. His temper was irritable, and when excited he would break out upon his dependents, in his broken English, with great volubility.
He was seldom or never moved to acts of pecuniary charity by tales of distress. Of religion, in the ordinary use of the term, he had little, or none; and, although interred in a Catholic cemetery, no clergyman attended his funeral. His character was like his eyesight-totally deficient on one side. Yet, in his darling pursuit, the accumulation of wealth, he exhibited gigantic powers. Still he did not idolize gold, nor spend it upon his own gratification ; but his greatest delight was to see it usefully employed. His ships and houses were always neatly and substantially built ; but ornament he disliked. While living he gaye away moderate sums for public objects, but seldom so much as $1,000 at a time. The following anecdote is told by his biographer. He had encouraged Samuel Coates, a shrewd Quaker, to call on him next day for some aid needed by the Pennsylvania Hospital, and if he found him on the right footing, he might give something. Samuel came at breakfast-time. “Well, what have you come for, Samuel ? " * Any thing thee pleases, Stephen.” Girard gave him a check for $200, which Samuel stuffed into his pocket without looking at it. "What? you no look at the check I gave you ?" "No, Stephen: beggars must not be choosers." “ Hand me back the check again," demanded Girard. * No, no, Stephen—a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.” “By George !” exclaimed Girard, “you have caught me on the right footing.” He then drew a check for $500; and, presenting it to Mr. Coates, asked him to look at it. "Well, to please thee, Stephen, I will." "Now give me back the first check,” demanded Girard-which was instantly complied with. Few understood him, however, as well as Samuel Coates. A Baptist clergyman, to whom he gave $200, in the same way, for a church, made a remark concerning his ability to give much more." Let me look at the check," said Girard. It was handed to him, and he tore it up with indignation.
Of his immense wealth, estimated variously at from six to twelve millions, he bequeathed a few very moderate legacies to his relatives—to no one of them more than $10,000, except to his niece, Mrs. Hemphill, to whom he left $60,000 ; to the Pennsylvania Hospital, $30,000; to other public charities various sums, from $20,000 downwards; to the city of New Orleans a considerable amount of real estate in Louisiana; to the state of Pennsylvania $300,000, to be expended in improvement by canal navigation; and the great bulk of his fortune he bestowed upon the city of Philadelphia, in trust : $500,000 to be expended in opening, widening, and im
proving a street along the Delaware, in front of the city, to be called Delaware-avenue, and also to widen Water-street ; sundry residuary sums to improve the police of the city, and promote the health and comfort of the inhabitants; and, as his great and favorite object, $2,000,000, or more if necessary, to build and endow a college for the education and maintenance of “poor white male orphans," as many as “the said income shall be adequate to maintain; to be received between the ages of six and ten, and to be bound out between the ages of fourteen and eighteen, to suitable occupations, as those of agriculture, navigation, arts, mechanical trades, and manufactures.” The following injunctions are extracted from the will :
"The orphans admitted into the college shall be there fed with plain but wholesome food, clothed with plain but decent apparel, (no distinctive dress ever to be worn,) and lodged in a plain but safe manner. Due regard shall be paid to their health ; and to this end their persons and clothes shall be kept clean, and they shall have suitable and rational exercise and recreation. They shall be instructed in the various branches of a sound education, comprehending reading, writing, grammar, arithmetic, geography, navigation, surveying, practical mathematics, astronomy, natural, chemical, and experimental philosophy, the French and Spanish languages, (I do not forbid, but I do not recommend the Greek and Latin languages ;) and such other learning and science as the capacities of the several scholars may merit or warrant. I would have them taught facts and things, rather than words or signs. And, especially, I desire that, by every proper means, a pure attachment to our republican institutions, and to the sacred rights of conscience, as guarantied by our happy constitutions, shall be formed and fostered in the minds of the scholars."
“I enjoin and require that no ecclesiastic, missionary, or minister, of any sect whatsoever, shall ever hold or exercise any station or duty whatever in the said college; nor shall any such person ever be admitted, for any purpose, or as a visiter, within the premises appropriated to the purposes of the said college. In making this restriction, I do not mean to cast any reflection upon any sect or person whatsoever; but, as there is such a multitude of sects, and such a diver. sity of opinion amongst them, I desire to keep the tender minds of the orphans, who are to derive advantage from this bequest, free from the excitement which clashing doctrines and sectarian controversy are so apt to produce: my desire is, that all the instructors and teachers in the college shall take pains to instil into the minds of the scholars the purest principles of morality, so that, on their entrance into active life, they may, from inclination and habit, evince benevolence towards their fellow-creatures, and a love of truth, sobriety, and industry-adopting at the same time such religious tenets as their matured reason may enable them to prefer.”
United States Mint. The edifice occupied by the U. S. Mint is one of the chaste designs of Mr. Strickland. It is built of white marble, and was erected in 1830. It has a front on Chestnut-st. of 122 feet, and the same on the Centre Square. All the processes of assaying, refining, and coining, are carried on within its walls. The Mint was established in 1790, and the operation of coining was commenced in 1793, in the building in Seventh-st., now
occupied by the Apprentices' Library Co. R. M. Patterson, Esq., has been for several years at the head of the establishment.
United States Bank. The chaste and beautiful banking-house occupied by the United States Bank is situated on Chestnut-st., between Fourth and Fifth streets. It was commenced in 1819, after the designs of the accomplished architect, William Strickland, and occupied nearly five years in its construction. The original cost was $500,000. It is built entirely of white marble, and its general form is that of the celebrated Parthenon, at Athens; the lateral colonnades being omitted. A part of the Philadelphia Bank (incorporated in 1804) is seen on the left of the view. On the right is seen a part of the edifice in which the Mercantile Library is kept. It was formed in 1822, and now contains about 6,000 volumez.
The first Bank of the United States was incorporated by congress, in Feb. 1791, with a view to its aid in "conducting the national finances," and its "advantages to trade and industry in general.” Congress having refused to renew the charter, it expired by its own limitation, in 1811. Stephen Girard purchased the building in Third-st., where its business had been transacted.
A new United States Bank was chartered by congress, and approved by President Madison on the 10th April, 1816, with a capital of $35,000,000; the government taking $7,000,000 of the stock. During the war of 1812-14, all the state banks had been in a state of suspension. The organization and management of the United States Bank, on a specie basis, caused them to resume. The stock of the Bank was made an object of speculation, and stood at one time as high as $156 per 100. The dividends varied from 5 to 6 per cent. The branches of the Bank were at Portland, Portsmouth, Boston, Providence, Hartford, New York, Baltimore, Washington, Richmond, Norfolk, Fayetteville, Charleston, Savannah, Mobile, New Orleans, Nashville, Louis ville, Lexington, Cincinnati, Chillicothe, and Pittsburg. The Bank commenced operations under the presidency of Capt. William Jones, in Jan., 1817. In 1820, the distinguished Langdon Cheves, of South Carolina, took charge of it, and restored it from a languishing condition to one of great prosperity. Nicholas Biddle, Esq., succeeded him in 1823. About the year 1828–29, the subject of the renewal of its charter began to be agitated. The Bank was drawn into the vortex of politics, and a fierce war was waged between its partisans and opponents. In Oct. 1833, the deposits of the government, which had hitherto been made exclusively with this bank, were removed, by order of President Jackson. A bill to recharter the Bank had been vetoed by him, in the previous year. The charter expired, according to limitation, in 1836. In the same year, the United States Bank of Pennsylvania was chartered, by the state legislature, with the same capital of $35,000,000; and purchasing the assets, and assuming the liabilities, of the
former United States Bank, continued the business under the same roof. This bank failed, and went into liquidation, early in 1841.*
United States Naval Asylum. The U. S. Naval Asylum is situated on the Gray's ferry road, near the eastern bank of the Schuylkill, below South-street. It was completed in 1835, having been erected by the government from the proceeds of the " hospital money” regularly paid by the officers and seamen of the navy out of their wages for many years past. It is designed as an asylum for sick seamen, and a home for the veterans of the navy, and for a naval school. The building, which is capable of lodging about 400 persons, is of white marble : the entire cost was about $300,000. It was under the charge of Commodore Biddle in 1842. Not far below this, on the Gray's ferry road, is the U.S. Arsenal.
Blockley Almshouse. The Almshouse of the city and county is an immense range of buildings occupying an elevated site near the west bank of the Schuylkill, nearly opposite the U. S. Arsenal. There are few cities whose paupers
* See the Outline History, page 51.