Girard, Stephen (jĭrärdˈ) [key], 1750–1831, American merchant, banker, and philanthropist, b. Bordeaux, France. Girard went to sea and at the age of 23 was a captain. In 1776 he settled in Philadelphia as a shipowner and merchant. He became wealthy and interested himself in the Bank of the United States. When its charter was not renewed, he set up his own bank in Philadelphia. He helped to finance the United States in the War of 1812, and in 1816 he put up a large amount of money for the Second Bank of the United States. Girard contributed much to the improvement of Philadelphia. He bequeathed several million dollars to found Girard College.
See biographies by J. B. McMaster (1918) and C. A. Herrick (1923); H. E. Wildes, Lonely Midas (1943); M. Minnegarde, Certain Rich Men (1970).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.