Stephen Girard – The one who saved the US government during the War of 1812

Stephen Girard was a Frenchman born on 20th May, 1750 and is still regarded as one of the richest and influential Americans of all times. He was a sailor, entrepreneur and philanthropist and a banker who had single-handedly saved the financial distress of the US government during the War of 1812. He had immigrated to America at an early age and from then on, he embarked on his enterprising nature and made good use of his entrepreneurial skills as he became a millionaire who had a say in the country’s financial status too.

Believed to be the fourth richest Americans of all times, Stephen Girard had his fortune estimated with the ratio of the prevalent GDP of the nation! Being childless, Stephen committed most of his wealth for the education and welfare of his orphans. Girard resided in Philadelphia and married in 1776.

The charter of the First Bank of the United States expired in 1811, and Girard decided to buy most of its stock, the building and its furnishings on the South Third Street in Philadelphia. He rechristened it as Girard’s Bank. He was the sole proprietor of the bank and hired George Simpson as the cashier along with seven other employees to embark on this journey towards becoming a millionaire. This was on 18th May, 1812. Later on, it merged with the Mellon Bank and a decade later purchased by Citizen’s Bank.

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