Girard, Stephen - History

Girard, Stephen - History

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Girard, Stephen (1750-1831) Financier and Philanthropist: Stephen Girard was born on May 24, 1750, near Bordeaux, France. As a young child, he lost one eye, which disfigured his face and caused him to become somewhat sour in disposition. At an early age, he sailed as a cabin-boy to the West Indies, and from there to New York. After he gained his employer's confidence, he became mate, then captain of a small vessel; with which he made several voyages to New Orleans. Soon, Girard was a part-owner of the ship. In 1769, he established himself in trade in Philadelphia, and went back and forth between being a merchant and being shipmaster. The Revolutionary War ended his enterprises, so he opened a small grocery store and establishment to bottle cider. From about 1777 to 1779, he earned money selling alcohol to soldiers of the Continental Army. In 1780, Girard returned to his West Indian trade; taking the lease of a range of stores in 1782, which he subletted at a big profit. During the insurrection in Haiti, several individuals placed their treasures on two of his vessels, for safe keeping. In the course of the insurrection, some of these individuals and their families were killed, leaving Girard with about $50,000. Investing some of this money in the First Bank of the United States in 1810, he purchased a building in 1812 and continued the business contained in it in his own name. He became a major private funder of the War of 1812. Upon the establishment of the Second Bank of the United States in 1816, Girard was became a director and strong positive influence on the nation's finances. When the government was unable to pay back a substantial loan owed to Girard, he offered to wait for repayment, or receive repayment in treasury notes. Girard was an enigmatic figure. He was rough and inhospitable, yet he had several close friends. He was a miser in small matters and strictly frugal in personal affairs, yet he gave generously to the national government and the city of Philadelphia. He was a disbeliever in Christianity; yet he gave money to Christian churches, among other institutions. Upon his death on December 26, 1831, in Philadelphia, his property was valued at $9,000,000. His nine-page will gave specific directions for the bulk of the money to be given to various charities, including the establishment of a college for orphans.

First Bank of the United States

The President, Directors and Company of the Bank of the United States, commonly known as the First Bank of the United States, was a national bank, chartered for a term of twenty years, by the United States Congress on February 25, 1791. It followed the Bank of North America, the nation's first de facto national bank. However, neither served the functions of a modern central bank: They did not set monetary policy, regulate private banks, hold their excess reserves, or act as a lender of last resort. [1] They were national insofar as they were allowed to have branches in multiple states and lend money to the US government. Other banks in the US were each chartered by, and only allowed to have branches in, a single state.

Establishment of the Bank of the United States was part of a three-part expansion of federal fiscal and monetary power, along with a federal mint and excise taxes, championed by Alexander Hamilton, first Secretary of the Treasury. Hamilton believed a national bank was necessary to stabilize and improve the nation's credit, and to improve handling of the financial business of the United States government under the newly enacted Constitution.

The First Bank building, located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, within Independence National Historical Park, was completed in 1797, and is a National Historic Landmark for its historic and architectural significance.

Girard, Stephen - History

Merchant, Mariner, Banker, Philanthropist, Humanitarian, Patriot

by Mike DiMeo, Girard College graduate (1939) and author of "The Stone Cocoon," about the college.

A Loan to the Treasury in Excess of Eight Million Dollars

Without demanding the concessions from the government, concessions that he could readily have obtained, Girard displayed the courage and the patriotism that few others could or would. He risked his entire fortune in granting a loan to the Treasury in excess of eight million dollars. When his country was down and out, Girard came to the rescue.

The Treaty of Ghent officially ended the war in December of 1814. America once more retreated to a peace that was obtained largely because one man, Girard, displayed the confidence in his nation that others lacked. Bold and fearless, wise, and with indomitable spirit, Girard gave America a lesson in courage and love of country that should have been recorded by historians with greater understanding, certainly with a more profound passion and eloquence.

September 13, 1815, should have been a date of no special import for Stephen Girard. There were no new shipping disasters, and there was nothing to interfere with the new and successful banking career of Stephen Girard. It did become, however, a date of momentous proportions to Stephen Girard. On that date, his wife Mary, who had been a loving companion in marriage for eight years before going insane, and who languished in the silence of her insanity for twenty-five years, died at Pennsylvania Hospital. She was fifty-six years old at her death.

Girard was distraught when Mary died he displayed great emotional distress at her passing and wept as he said farewell at her final viewing. His moving expression of remorse at her death might have come from his torment of not having been able to consummate a family with her his joy when having children around him in his home, some as almost strangers, might give credence to that speculation. He had tried on two occasions to gain a divorce from Mary while she slowly passed through her twenty-five years of insanity, but he never neglected her well being. She was afforded the best care that could be provided at that time despite the difficulty in understanding and treating the illness that plagued her. In accordance with her husband's wishes, Mary Lum Girard was laid to rest on the grounds of the Pennsylvania Hospital, her grave site unmarked and unadorned.

Girard's business strength never faltered in the face of that adversity. His banking successes multiplied and his reputation in the banking industry soon became legend. He was frequently courted for advice and support on banking matters. A Second Bank of the United States came about largely through his influence. The bank was located in Philadelphia so as to be in concert with Girard's Bank , also located in that city. Girard's wealth and personal appeal were a positive factor as well as the financial stability that accrued in doing business with Girard's Bank .

Despite his wealth, which entitled Girard to a life of luxury and ease should he desire, he was a hands-on businessman in shipping, farming, and in banking, he was visible in all areas of the workplace, often performing menial, physically demanding tasks in defiance of his advancing years. " My deeds must be my life ," he said. " When I am dead, my actions must speak for me ." He further said that when death came for him he would be busy unless he was asleep in bed. Those words truly represented this simple living, but philosophically complex man.

New Investments

Girard's physical abilities were diminishing in the advance of his years, but his mental acuity remained at a high level he saw opportunity where others did not. Coal and the railroad became a new, exciting and profitable challenge for him as he approached the twilight of his life. He purchased land in upstate Pennsylvania the value that Girard perceived in making his bold venture was to be accrued as coal mining would bring him new riches. He was then seventy-nine years old. When eighty-one, he invested in railroading, the vehicle that would carry the coal to the markets he envisioned would be there.

Girard continued to exert his diminishing physical energies to all of his many and diverse business enterprises. His personality remained as always: determined and resolute hard work the only companion he felt to be a worthy one. Polly Kenton no longer was his mistress. After thirty-one years of a faithful relationship that had satisfied both parties, the separation came in 1827. The few remaining years of his life were spent as they had always been, working and looking constantly for more worlds to conquer.

Girard's Death

Death came to Stephen Girard on December 26, 1831. Influenza was taking a heavy toll in Philadelphia. He contracted the disease that quickly developed into pneumonia and proved to be fatal. His faithful slave, Hannah, was at his bedside when Girard died. She had served him for more than fifty years, and she would be rewarded in his will accordingly. She was granted her freedom and an annual income that would serve her well for the rest of her life. His generosity did not cease with his death.

Girard was buried four days later in the churchyard cemetery of Holy Trinity, where a simple grave site ceremony took place. In the four days between his death and burial, the city of Philadelphia paid tribute to Girard with acclamations of appreciation and respect for his contributions, both on a business and personal level. He had gained admiration from the citizens of Philadelphia for his selfless expressions of humanitarian concern his funeral became a significant event as mourners, the rich, the poor, notables and the common man, all wished to publicly acknowledge the loss they felt.

Girard's Remarkable Will

Girard's will had been carefully and painstakingly written and rewritten, especially in the final year of his life. Aside from his slave, Hannah, he also allotted lifetime incomes to the other women in his life allowing them to live comfortably in their remaining years. Many other charitable groups benefited from Girard's benevolence his generosity knew no bounds.

Above all else, in a gesture that stands alone in the educational history of America, unique in the magnitude of that gesture, and an acknowledgment of the foresight of the man who envisioned the benefits, was the gift of Girard College. It is perhaps the single, most extraordinary portion of a legacy that speaks of Girard's generosity as no other. Carefully structured to his wishes, Girard College is located in the northern part of the city of Philadelphia. Stephen Girard, in his will, allocated millions to build and operate a boarding school for " poor , white, male orphans ." That legacy was carried out as he willed it for one hundred and twenty years.

The will was amended in 1968 by order of the Supreme Court of the United States to strike the " poor, white, male orphan " provision so as to include the underprivileged without regard to race, creed or color. It was later amended a second time to allow for the admission of females. The school remains today as a leader in providing quality education to hundreds of children from poor families everywhere. It is a school without parallel.

Girard's will was severely challenged by relatives who regarded his gift to orphans to be excessive and counter to their own welfare in seeking the huge estate value for themselves. In 1844, provisions of the will were argued before the U.S. Supreme Court. Daniel Webster was the petitioner for the Girard family a prominent Philadelphia lawyer, Horace Binney, argued for the defense. In 1844, the Supreme Court upheld the will as it was written. It was then considered a stinging defeat for Daniel Webster.

Girard College

Building on the forty-five acre tract of land where Girard College was to rise in North Philadelphia had begun earlier. On January 1, 1848, the first students entered Girard College to begin studies in the basics of Reading, Writing, Arithmetic, and other more advanced subjects touching on Astronomy, and various Philosophies. The curriculum also included the French and Spanish languages. Girard's will was specific in outlining the design of the buildings to house the students he had given great thought also to the education that would be provided.

On January 9, 1851, Girard's remains were taken from the grave at Trinity Cemetery and moved to Girard College, and placed in Founder's Hall. Months later after completion of a sarcophagus, the casket holding the remains of Girard was placed in the sarcophagus in the front foyer of Founder's Hall. A life-size marble statue of Girard stands before the sarcophagus giving the students and visitors who can view it from the roadway below an impression of dignity, authority, and a peaceful aura of simplicity, competence, and durability.

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Girard, Stephen - History

Although the name “Girard” is commonly spoken in Philadelphia, the reason behind it is less known. Stephen Girard’s legacy is evident by Girard Avenue that spans almost 8 miles through many diverse neighborhoods. Stephen’s proudest contribution is undoubtedly Girard College that provides free education to underprivileged youth. However, the impact he made in his lifetime is much more significant to the welfare of the entire nation than we may consider when driving across town.

Stephen Girard was born in Bordeaux on May 20, 1750. If being born in southwestern France’s largest seaport was not enough of an influence on young Stephen’s occupational ambitions, he was also born into a family of seafaring men. Stephen’s father became a ship captain in his twenties, and Stephen’s grandfather “had even earlier decided on a career at sea when only ten years old.”

Stephen was the oldest of nine children to his parents Pierre and Anne. When Stephen was 11 years old, his mother died at the age of 36. Two years later, in 1764, Stephen took his first journey at sea as an apprentice officer at only 13 years old. For the next 12 years, Stephen was a merchant between his home country of France, the lucrative trading post of the West Indies, and his future home in North America.

In 1776, Stephen Girard moved to Philadelphia to begin his own shipping business. His business techniques revolutionized the way that industries operate. When the market was down for a product, it would be stored in a warehouse until the demand increased so he could sell it at higher price. Another innovative aspect of his shipping business was the way in which his ship captains were paid. Normally a ship captain would earn a percentage of the value of their cargo load, so ship captains would choose to work only when expensive items were being shipped or when the market was doing well. Girard offered his workers a flat wage on shipments regardless how long transportation took. Captains were motivated to travel quickly and frequently with this business model, thus benefitting the economic integrity of Stephen’s company.

Trading in places like South America, the Caribbean, Europe, and China made Stephen an extremely wealthy man. His great wealth and ability to make smart business decisions put him in opportune situations. He was a member of the Freemasons, alongside Port Richmond-founder William Ball, Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, Simón Bolívar, and many other prestigious individuals of the time. Girard grew wealthier and more powerful as his influential connections increased.

The First Bank of the United States, championed by Alexander Hamilton, opened in Philadelphia on February 25, 1791 with a 20 year charter. When the charter expired in 1811, “Girard purchased a majority of its shares…as well as its headquarters on Philadelphia’s South Third Street. The newly established financer effectively saved the U.S. Treasury” and then began his own bank called ‘Girard Bank’.

The Treasury was saved by Girard in the following year during the War of 1812. In order to fund the United States’ defense, Girard “staked virtually everything he owned on bond purchases for the federal government in doing so, he saved the nation’s credit, less in pursuit of profit than as an act of patriotism.” His investment accounted for 95 percent of the money raised by the entire nation. Risking his entire fortune by loaning money to the United States government, Stephen Girard showed that he was not only the richest man in the country, but also the most selfless.

With more money than one can imagine, Stephen decided to put it toward noble causes: the Pennsylvania Hospital, the Society for Relief of Distressed Masters of Ships and Their Widows (his father-in-law was a shipbuilder who died shortly before Girard’s marriage to his daughter), the Public School Fund of Philadelphia, the Pennsylvania Institution for the Deaf and Dumb, the Fuel Saving Society, and the Orphan Society, among many others. Nobody questioned the motives behind Girard’s actions. He was always trying to help people in whatever way he could, including by putting himself in mortal danger during yellow fever outbreaks in the city to care for the ill.

It is unclear why Stephen Girard gave so much to so many people. Perhaps it is because his mother died when he was only eleven, and his father was at sea, so he was forced to care for his younger eight siblings. Perhaps it is because he had a non-functioning, repulsive right eye that made him seclude himself with embarrassment for many years.

His most famous contribution to the city was left in his will, which stated that his money must be used to create a school for “poor white orphan boys, ages six to ten.” Stephen Girard died in 1831 at the age of 81, and Girard College opened January 1, 1848. Over the last 168 years, the school has given 100 percent of its students free tuition, books, room and board, and an education that progresses virtually all of its students toward higher education.

Today, Girard College is an independent, co-ed, college prep, 5-day boarding school located on a 43-acre campus, enrolling students, grades one through twelve, and awards a full scholarship with a yearly value of approximately $44,000 to every child admitted.

Girard College did not desegregate until 1968, following a fourteen year legal battle to desegregate the school. Cecil B. Moore and the Philadelphia Freedom Fighters marched around the wall encompassing the campus for seven months in 1965 and even Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. came to the front gates of Girard’s campus and addressed the protesters.

The first four African-American male students were finally admitted on September 11, 1968 and the first female student was admitted as a first grader in 1984, following more adjustments to the admission criteria. In 2009, Girard College named Autumn Adkins its 16th president, making her the first female chief administrator and first African-American to head the College. The current president, Clarence D. Armbrister, is the first African-American male to serve in this role.

Stephen Girard put almost his entire $7.5 million fortune into Girard College, which equates to $120 billion in 2014 currency. His donation was the largest philanthropic donation in history at that time. A small percentage of his money went to other charities, his family, and the city of Philadelphia. Despite his many hardships, Stephen Girard was the fourth wealthiest American of all time. The only Americans richer include: Oil Monopolist John D. Rockefeller, Railroad Gambler Cornelius Vanderbilt, and Real Estate Investor John Jacob Astor.

Stephen Girard’s life is full of additional interesting stories, including his support of the Revolution from Mount Holly, New Jersey with his wife, admitting his wife to the Pennsylvania Hospital as an incurable lunatic, surviving a horse drawn carriage running over his face at the age of 80, and his success with young mistresses despite his homely appearance (taking a mistress while your wife is admitted for insanity was an acceptable practice in his time period).

Stephen Girard’s immigrant story is among the greatest that this country has ever seen. His global activity, business savvy, patriotism, and charity define his legacy. Very rarely do we see a successful businessman as honest as Girard, and perhaps never have we seen one from his time period.

Founder’s Hall Museum

Girard College was formed by an unprecedented act of philanthropy shown by French immigrant and merchant, Stephen Girard. At the time of his death in 1831, Stephen Girard was the richest man in America and his endowment for Girard College was, up to that point, the largest private charitable donation in American history.

In the middle of the 19th century, Philadelphia was at the forefront of creating innovative institutions designed to solve specific societal challenges: Eastern State Penitentiary was built to tackle criminal justice reform, the Pennsylvania Hospital was established to care for patients with mental illnesses, and the Franklin Institute was designed to expand upon scientific knowledge.

Inspired by the institutions around him, Stephen Girard sought to address the challenge of educating young Americans for the future. He directed the city of Philadelphia to use his money to build a boarding school for poor, orphan (interpreted as “fatherless”) white boys so that they might be prepared for the trades and professions of their era. Girard College opened on January 1, 1848.

The school’s unique mission guaranteed that it would become a lightning rod for controversy surrounding the important social issues of each era including religious freedom, and racial and gender diversity. The first major controversy was religious, centering on a clause in Girard’s will that barred clergy from the campus, so as to keep the students “free from the excitement which clashing doctrines and sectarian controversy are so apt to produce.” In 1836 Stephen Girard’s surviving French relatives challenged his will on the grounds that it was opposed to Christianity and therefore to Pennsylvania law. Daniel Webster argued for the family at the U.S. Supreme Court, but the court ruled in favor of the school.

In the 20th century, questions of race and gender came to the fore. Girard College desegregated in 1968, following a fourteen-year struggle by civil rights activists, spearheaded by Raymond Pace Alexander in the 1950s and Cecil B. Moore in the 1960s. Following an unsuccessful lawsuit brought by Alexander from 1954-1957, which went to the Supreme Court, in 1965 Moore organized seven and a half months of daily protests outside the wall of the school. This resulted in a second legal case (1965-1968) which led to Girard College’s desegregation on 14th amendment grounds.

The admission of girls came in 1984 and was less contested, but perhaps ultimately a bigger shift in school culture, as Girard College transitioned from all-male to co-ed. The initial cohort of girls was admitted into the elementary school, so the graduating class of 1993 was the first to include women.

Since 1848 over 20,000 students have been educated at Girard College. Throughout its history, the school has experimented and adapted its program in service to Girard’s original mission to educate children to become productive citizens. Stephen Girard’s will outlined a broad academic background, including math, science, reading, writing, grammar, and modern languages, to be followed by an apprenticeship in a business or trade. By the end of the 19th century apprenticeship was no longer a viable model and Girard College created on-campus career training through business courses and a mechanical school, which taught skills such as printing, metalwork, and auto mechanics.

Girard both innovated and responded to changes in educational theory and practice over the years, experimenting, for example, with co-operative internships in the 1910s and project-based learning the 1930s. Increasing numbers of students went on to college in the 20th century and by the early 1990s the school phased out the mechanical school to focus on a completely college-preparatory model, which it retains today. The goal remains the same, which is to prepare students for a successful life and career after they leave Girard.

Stephen Girard

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Stephen Girard, (born May 20, 1750, Bordeaux, France—died December 26, 1831, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.), American financier and philanthropist whose purchase of government bonds during the War of 1812 provided economic support for continuation of U.S. military campaigns.

Girard shipped out to sea at the age of 14 and by 1774 was captain of a ship involved in U.S. coastal trade with the West Indies. Stymied by British blockades of U.S. seaports during the Revolutionary War (1775–83), he settled in Philadelphia but resumed maritime trading after the war. He developed a worldwide trading fleet and scrupulously efficient business methods that laid the foundation of his fortune. In 1812 he bought out the first Bank of the United States, after its charter had expired. He renamed it the Bank of Stephen Girard, which became known as the “sheet anchor” of government credit during the War of 1812. Toward the end of the war, when U.S. credit was at its lowest ebb, his subscription for 95 percent of the government war loan issue enabled the United States to carry on the war. Subsequently he was one of Philadelphia’s most noted civic leaders.

Girard bequeathed nearly his entire fortune to social welfare institutions, including an endowment for a Philadelphia college for male orphans, founded as the Stephen Girard College in 1833.

This article was most recently revised and updated by Michael Ray, Editor.


Walter A. McDougall - Walter A. McDougall is the Ginsburg-Satell Chair of FPRI's Center for the Study of America and the West. He is also the Co-Chair of FPRI’s Madeleine and W.W. Keen Butcher History Institute, Chairman of FPRI Board of Advisors, and sits on the Board of Editors for FPRI’s journal, Orbis. He is the Alloy-Ansin Professor of International Relations and Professor of History at the University of Pennsylvania.

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W.P. Mangham and The Richland Beacon News

W. P. Mangham, the new recorder, was also the founder and editor of the parish’s first newspaper. This was the Richland Beacon, established at Rayville about 1870, and still in the hands of the Mangham family. Wiley P. Mangham and T. J. Mangham were both to be associated with this paper and with the Delhi Chronicle which had a few years of existence in the next decade.

Because of the fertility of its soil, Richland developed in economic wealth and resources along with, or perhaps in spite of its political growth. In the 1830s, Judge Henry Bry, early settler and prominent jurist of Ouachita Parish had prophesied that the swamps and marshes of Richland, once they were properly drained, would be the most fruitful soil of all northeast Louisiana, a prophesy which has indeed come true.

The parish did not become a region of great plantations. Much of the property of Stephen Girard in the section was left, (after his death, which occurred before the Civil War), to the cities of New Orleans and Philadelphia, which prevented to a certain extent, the expansion of the fertile region.

During the post-war years, the destruction of the railroad had been a handicap. The rebuilding of the line was started at the Monroe end, and with floods inundating the lower sections, many times very little of the track in Richland except in the highlands at Bayou Macon remained above water.

The railroad company, like its property, had gone bankrupt. Following the war, it had been acquired by a group including John Ludeling, John Ray, Frank P. Stubbs, George A. Waddill, and William F. Gordon, and the process of reconstruction finally began. Aid was given by the state, but it was not until June 15, 1867, that the first train since Stevenson’s raid in April of 1863, ran from Monroe to Delhi. From the latter point to Vicksburg, travel was effected by stagecoach, which required fourteen hours. 15

The railroad gave the parish an outlet for its cotton and other products, and a steady growth began which has increased throughout the years. The discovery of the Richland gas field augmented this growth, and with the building of the excellent highway system of the parish, coupled with the progressive spirit of its citizens, Rich­land looks forward to a bright and prosperous future.

Steven Gerrard

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Steven Gerrard, (born May 30, 1980, Whiston, England), English professional football (soccer) player who was considered one of the most-complete footballers in the world in the early 2000s.

Gerrard was discovered by his local upper-division football club, Liverpool FC, at age nine. He played for Liverpool’s youth squad and signed a professional contract with them at age 17. His first-team debut came in 1998, and he became a regular contributor the following year. Gerrard had established himself as a star midfielder by the 2000–01 season, when Liverpool won the League, Football Association (FA), and Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) cups and Gerrard earned England’s Young Player of the Year honours.

Gerrard was named Liverpool’s captain in 2003, at just age 23. In the 2004–05 season he led Liverpool to the club’s first Champions League title in 21 years, scoring a key goal in Liverpool’s dramatic three-goal comeback against AC Milan in the final. During the following off-season he became embroiled in a high-profile contract dispute with Liverpool that nearly resulted in his transfer to Chelsea FC before he ultimately re-signed with his longtime club. Gerrard then helped Liverpool win both the 2005–06 FA Cup and UEFA Super Cup, and he was named the Professional Footballers’ Association Player of the Year at season’s end. In 2007 Liverpool advanced to the Champions League final for the second time in three years but lost to AC Milan by a score of 2–1. Gerrard scored a career-high 24 goals in the 2008–09 Premier League season, which netted him the Football Writers’ Association Footballer of the Year award.

Gerrard and Liverpool then ran off a string of four consecutive season finishes outside the top five Premier League positions. One bright spot during that stretch was the team’s performance in the nonleague tournaments during the 2011–12 season, when Liverpool won the League Cup and was the runner-up for the FA Cup. The club broke through in 2013–14, leading the Premier League for six of the final seven weeks of the season only to relinquish the championship in the final week to place second in the league. Gerrard played one more season with Liverpool, leaving the team following the 2014–15 season having scored 186 career goals for the club, fifth most in Liverpool history. He then joined the Los Angeles Galaxy of Major League Soccer (MLS). Gerrard played with the Galaxy for two seasons before retiring from club football in 2016.

Gerrard was a member of the English national under-21 team, and he debuted with the senior national team in 2000. He made one appearance in the 2000 European Championship (Euro 2000), but an injury kept him out of the 2002 World Cup. Gerrard was a regular contributor to England’s runs to the quarterfinals in both the Euro 2004 and the 2006 World Cup. Gerrard was named captain of the English national team during qualification for the 2010 World Cup, in which the team was subsequently knocked out in the round of 16. England again advanced to the quarterfinals of Euro 2012 but was eliminated from the 2014 World Cup after having played just two games (both losses), which was the earliest the country had ever been knocked out of the tournament finals Gerrard retired from international football shortly after the end of the World Cup.

After ending his playing career, Gerrard remained on the sidelines, first as youth coach for Liverpool in 2017 and then as manager of Rangers, one of Scotland’s most-storied clubs, in 2018. He was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in 2006.

Tracing the History of Stephen Girard in Philadelphia

Philadelphia has an overwhelming amount of historic sites and museums, but there’s a lot of history many travelers may miss. Historic people and places that helped shape our nation abound, and there’s one early Philadelphian who left the city and the country quite a legacy. Stephen Girard’s presence can still be felt and visited around Philadelphia.

Stephen Girard was a Revolutionary War-era Philadelphian, a self-made millionaire who started as a cabin boy and eventually owned a fleet of cargo ships. When Girard died in 1831, his estate was worth $7.5 million, the equivalent of several billion dollars today. He wasn’t just a rich guy, he was the Bill Gates of his day, considered one of the top five richest Americans in history. He used the money to help the then-fledgling American government finance (and win) the War of 1812.

Girard left the bulk of his money to the establishment of Girard College, a boarding home for poor, fatherless boys to be admitted when between the ages of 6 and 9. From age 6 to 17, I was a student at Girard College. A native Philadelphian, my father died when I was 4. Because of the excellent education and guidance provided me there, I was able to go on to university studies and a successful business career.

Stephen Girard Collection at Girard College

The Stephen Girard Collection is a museum on the grounds of Girard College. It contains Girard’s personal artifacts and honors the life of an early American patriot and business genius with the unique ability to accumulate great wealth. The institution, which opened in 1848, is on 43 acres, located at 2101 S. College Ave. in North Philadelphia. The museum is located on the Girard campus on the second floor of Founder’s Hall.

The collection includes original furniture, silverware, ceramics, journals, paintings, his carriage, and other articles from Girard’s estate. A life-sized statue and tomb of the founder are located on the first floor. Tours of the Girard Collection, Founder’s Hall, and/or the entire campus are given free to the public on Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Other days may be accommodated by appointment.

Girard took over what was the First Bank of the United States in 1811 and opened his own bank. This included taking over the bank’s building, which still stands today, as part of the Independence National Historic Park. The building exterior can be visited (120 S. Third St., Philadelphia), but the inside is currently under renovation. Girard Bank, which I was a customer of, operated until 1983, when it was merged with Mellon Bank and the Girard name retired.

The City Tavern

The City Tavern (138 S. Second St., Philadelphia) dates back to 1773. This restaurant still brings memories of when I was a student at Girard College many decades ago. Only a few steps from the Girard Bank building, it’s located within the Independence Historical Park. Aside from the good food and period costumes worn by the staff, we always enjoyed visiting a tavern where we knew Stephen Girard must have also eaten.

Watch the video: Steven Gerrard - Captain Fantastic - Passes, Vision, Assists u0026 Goals 2013. 2014 - MRCLFCompilations