Probably the most striking feature of this

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Probably the most striking feature of this correspondence is its change in tone, that for I780-1785 being principally relative to small affairs and with sea-captains and the more humble class of merchants; but in the next decade including such names as De la Foret, Genet, Le Blank, the lawyer Duponceau and the physician Deveze, among the Frenchmen, and Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, Jared Ingersoll and other prominent Americans. It also shows not only the 7
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public gratitude for his self sacrificing services during the epidemic, but the founding of a confidence in his probity and foresight which extended to both sides of the Atlantic and established the basis for his simple self-given title of ‘mariner and merchant’.” 12 Girard’s correspondence for the years 1800 to 1808 reveal that “The continuance of the wars in Europe---while they greatly increased the risks of maritime business-multiplied its profits in a much greater ratio-and the neutral commerce under the American flag, while hampered and grossly harassed by the belligerents, had advantages possessed by that of no other nation. That peculiar combination of caution with boldness in action, which was one of Mr. Girard's most striking characteristics, specially fitted him to take advantage of this condition of affairs, and we find him building ship after ship, dispatching them on voyages, now including the East Indies, China, and South America, as well as the ports of Europe and America, and maintaining agencies under trusted employees in all the great commercial centers, and continually enlarging his trade and increasing his maritime investments, until paralyzed by the Embargo of 1807 13 . In this period many suits and claims for damage growing out of the seizure of his vessels and cargoes by the British and French were instituted, and pressed with characteristic vigor, some to a successful termination, while others, owing to the complications growing out of the purchase of Louisiana in 1803, are as yet unsettled and the basis of the present apparently interminable "French Spoliation Claims." In the latter part of 1801, the ship "Rousseau," was launched and the "Liberty" was altered from a brig to a ship; in 1804, the "Helvetius," and in 1806 the "Montesquieu," were added to his fleet; the latter two being specially built and equipped for the East India trade. In addition to this fleet of large ships, Mr. Girard chartered a number of smaller vessels, which he employed in carrying fish and other American products to the ports of Europe. But the Embargo of December, 1807, and the consequent Bayonne Decree of 1808, effectually checked the growth of American commerce and led Mr. Girard to materially contract this branch of his business and to convert his property in foreign lands into American securities. It was in this manner that a large holding of stock of the first Bank of the United States came into the possession of Mr. Girard, and this in turn led, upon the termination of its charter, to his purchase of the property and assets of the Bank, and to his entering upon his career as a banker.”
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  • Fall '19
  • Test, Second Bank of the United States, Stephen Girard, Marie Antoinette Girard

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