History of America’s One Percent – Episode #5

hogaf-logo-wip2In this podcast series we dive into the long and shadowy history of America’s ruling elite through the works of authors who were either silenced, suppressed, or forgotten, to discover the origins of the 1% and from where their power and wealth was, and still is, extracted.

Each recording will be approx. 1 hour in length to allow for easy consumption of the material.  The narrator will only interrupt the reading to provide insight, spell names, read informative footnotes, or provide definitions for archaic words.

 In this episode – Continued reading of History of Great American Fortunes by Gustavus Myers. Includes Part I, Chapter VI:  Girard – Richest of the Shippers.  Stephen Girard’s Whitewashed Legacy.  His Humble Origins.  A Miserable Miser.  Profiting From the Haitian Revolution.  Purchases First Central Bank.  How He Treats His Employees.  Girard Single-handedly Saves US Government With Usurious War Loans.  Becomes Director of the Second Bank of the United States.  The Bank Is Caught Bribing The Press.  His Massive Fortune Left to Philanthropy.

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[1] “Kings of Fortune” : 16 — The pretentious title and sub-title of this work, written thirty odd years ago by Walter R. Houghton, A.M., gives an idea of the fantastic exaltation indulged in of the careers of men of great wealth. Hearken to the full title: “Kings of Fortune—or the Triumphs and Achievements of Noble, Self-made men.—Whose brilliant careers have honored their calling, blessed humanity, and whose lives furnish instruction for the young, entertainment for the old and valuable lessons for the aspirants of fortune.” Could any fulsome effusion possibly surpass this?

[2] “Mr. Girard’s bank was a financial success from the beginning. A few months after it opened for business its capital was increased to one million three hundred thousand dollars.  One of the incidents which helped, at the outstart, to inspire the public with confidence in the stability of the new institution was the fact that the trustees who liquidated the affairs of the old Bank of the United States opened an account in Girard’s Bank, and deposited in its vaults some millions of dollars in specie belonging to the old bank.” — “The History of the Girard National Bank of Philadelphia,” by Josiah Granville Leach, LL.B., 1902.  This eulogistic work contains only the scantiest details of Girard’s career.

[3] The First Session of the Twenty-second Congress, 1831, iv, containing reports from Nos. 460 to 463.

[4] Ibid.  An investigating committee appointed by the Pennsylvania Legislature in 1840, reported that during a series of years the Bank of the United States (or United States Bank, as it was more often referred to) had corruptly expended $130,000 in Pennsylvania for a re-charter.— Pa. House Journal, 1842, Vol. II, Appendix, 172-531.

[5] In providing for the establishment of Girard College, Girard stated in his will : ” I enjoin and require that no ecclesiastic, missionary, or minister of any sect whatsoever, shall ever hold or exercise any station or duty whatsoever in the said college; nor shall any such person be admitted for any purpose, or as a
visitor within the premises appropriated to the purposes of said college.” — The Will of the Late Stephen Girard, Esq., 1848 : 22-23.
An attempt was made by his relatives in France to break his will, one of the grounds being that the provisions of his will were in conflict with the Christian religion which was a part of the common law of Pennsylvania. The attempt failed.

[6] For example, an address by Edward Everett, at the Odeon, before the Mercantile Library Association in Boston, September 13, 1838 : ” Few persons, I believe, enjoyed less personal popularity in the community in which he lived and to which he bequeathed his personal fortune. . . . A citizen and a patriot he lived in his modest dwelling and plain garb; appropriating to his last personal wants the smallest pittance from his princely income; living to the last in the dark and narrow street in which he made his fortune; and when he died bequeathed it for the education of orphan children. For the public I do not believe he could have done better,” etc., etc. — Hunt’s ” Merchant’s Magazine,” 1830, i : 35.

[7] “The Public Charities of Philadelphia.”

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