Thomas Jefferson Papers

Thomas Jefferson to Stephen Girard, 10 July 1815

To Stephen Girard

Monticello July1 10. 1815.


Having occasion for a remittance to Paris for some books I propose to import from thence, I requested mr Vaughan to inform me through what channel it could be obtained. he wrote me in answer that you would be so kind as to give me a credit with your correspondent there to the necessary amount. the cost of the books I write for, according to Catalogue prices of 20. years ago, would be about 275.D. and I expect that 350.D. would cover the increase of price since that time. this sum therefore I wish to have placed at the order of mr George Ticknor of Boston who proposing to pass some time in that city (Paris)2 is so kind as to select and forward the books to me. should the augmentation of price be greater than I have allowed for, it can surely be but little, and if answered by your correspondent, the surplus shall be reimbursed to you the moment it is made known to me. I have also occasion to ask for some wines from my antient friend Stephen Cathalan of Marseilles, and to place at his disposal a further sum of 200.D. if you can conveniently add this to the credit on your correspondent in Paris, it will add to the obligation; and presuming on it, I have desired mr Vaughan to place in your hands the sum of 550.D. which I have directed to be remitted to him from Richmond.

Having long borne high respect for your character as a man and citizen, I embrace with pleasure this first occasion offered of rendering it’s just tribute, and, with my thanks for your present kindness, which, from the difficulty of finding a medium of small remittances to Paris, is a real accomodation, I add the assurance of my great esteem & respect.

Th: Jefferson

RC (PPGi: Girard Papers [microfilm at PPAmP]); addressed: “Stephen Girard esq. Philadelphia”; franked; postmarked Charlottesville, 19 July; endorsed in a clerk’s hand as received 23 July and answered 30 July. PoC (MHi); on verso of reused address cover of Charles Willson Peale to TJ, 2 May 1815; endorsed by TJ.

Stephen Girard (1750–1831), merchant and financier, was born in Bordeaux, France. He joined the crew of a merchant ship owned by his father in 1764 and received a captain’s license from the French government in 1773. After living in New York City, 1774–76, he settled permanently in Philadelphia. Girard profited greatly from his involvement in foreign trade, gradually extending his business ventures from the West Indies to Europe and Asia and investing the profits in banks and real estate. After the charter of the first Bank of the United States expired in 1811, he bought the building and all other remaining assets, using them the following year to establish Stephen Girard’s Bank, a private, unincorporated enterprise. During the War of 1812 Girard and other businessmen from Philadelphia and New York City united to sell government bonds to investors in order to support the war effort. When the second Bank of the United States was created in 1816, he was one of its five commissioners and a major investor, although he soon withdrew from involvement in the institution. A noted philanthropist throughout his life, Girard left an estate valued in excess of $7 million, the bulk of which he willed in trust to the city of Philadelphia for the education of poor, white, orphaned boys. The resulting institution became Girard College (ANB description begins John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes, eds., American National Biography, 1999, 24 vols. description ends ; DAB; George Wilson, Stephen Girard: America’s First Tycoon [1995]; Donald R. Adams Jr., Finance and Enterprise in Early America: A Study of Stephen Girard’s Bank, 1812–1831 [1978]; Harry Emerson Wildes, Lonely Midas: The Story of Stephen Girard [1943]; Girard to TJ, 31 May 1806 [DLC]; Philadelphia National Gazette and Literary Register, 29 Dec. 1831; Washington Daily National Intelligencer, 29, 30 Dec. 1831).

1Reworked from “June.”

2Word interlined.

Index Entries

  • Cathalan, Stephen (Étienne) (1757–1819); and wine for TJ search
  • Girard, Stephen; and TJ’s lines of credit search
  • Girard, Stephen; identified search
  • Girard, Stephen; letters to search
  • Girard, Stephen; TJ on search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Books & Library; orders books search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Business & Financial Affairs; lines of credit in Europe search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Business & Financial Affairs; orders wine from S. Cathalan search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; S. Girard search
  • Library of Congress; TJ replaces books sold to search
  • Perregaux, Laffitte & Compagnie (Paris firm); and TJ’s lines of credit in France search
  • Ticknor, George; and books for TJ search
  • Vaughan, John; and TJ’s lines of credit in Europe search
  • wine; TJ orders from S. Cathalan search