14 during the period 1812 to 1819 his fleet was

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of the property and assets of the Bank, and to his entering upon his career as a banker.” 14 During the period 1812 to 1819 his fleet was sailing mostly to Charleston, Amsterdam, Lisbon, Batavia, and Canton. In 1819 a new ship, Superb, was added. His Asian trade was becoming unprofitable so he decided to confine his trade to European ports. 15 8
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THE BANKER Girard was operating his trading business from his home and counting room at 21 and 23 North Water Street, Philadelphia, a building that was demolished in 1845 to make way for warehouses, one of which later became the Girard Meat Packing Company. 16 He was one of the wealthiest merchants. When Girard converted his bookkeeping from pounds to dollars, in 1794, he was worth $209,553. By 1801, his worth had increased to six hundred thousand, then to two million in 1810, and to four million by 1819. In a letter dated June 28, 1812, he said, "The alarming situation of our maritime commerce has induced me to employ a part of my funds in the banking business. This establishment has already been in operation as the Bank of United States." 17 Although he continued to be a merchant until his death, banking was his main interest after 1812. In 1810, Girard had a million dollars deposited in the Baring, Brothers Co., a bank in London, England. He transferred $400,000 to buy stock in the Bank of the United States, the bank founded in 1791 by Robert Morris. George Simpson, the bank's cashier for seventeen years, advised Girard that he could purchase the bank's buildings for $120,000, less than one third its original cost. When the United States government refused to renew the bank's Charter, Girard was the wealthiest man in the country and the largest holder of stock in the bank. He bought the bank in May 1812, hired Simpson and began his private bank, The Bank Of Stephen Girard or "Stephen Girard's Banking House.” 18 Its original assets were $1,200,000. Girard's purchase of the bank helped to avoid further bankruptcies, eased the money market, and restored public confidence in the banking institution. Girard was sixty-two years old when he entered the banking business and from it he made another fortune. In 1813, the United States was at war with England and extremely short of money. Lack of funds periled the new nation's ability to conduct the war. The Government unsuccessfully attempted to raise $10 million. Girard covered half the amount then convinced David Parish, 19 who used money borrowed from Girard, to subscribed to three million dollars of the loan. John Jacob Astor, who made his fortune in furs, covered the remaining two million dollars. Albert Gallatin, Secretary of the Treasury, a fellow Frenchman and friend of Girard, gave them a 6% yearly profit for 12 years and permitted them to purchase the $100 certificates for $70. These terms were beneficial to the Government and profitable to Girard, Parish, and Astor. These three foreign-born citizens probably saved the United States from losing the War of 1812.
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  • Fall '19
  • Test, Second Bank of the United States, Stephen Girard, Marie Antoinette Girard

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