Alexander Turney Stewart

From A Compendium of Irish Biography, 1878

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Stewart, Alexander Turney, a wealthy New York merchant and capitalist, was born near Lisburn, 12th October 1803. He lost both parents before he was many days old, and was placed under the guardianship of Thomas Lamb, a member of the Society of Friends. The death of his grandfather interrupted his studies at Trinity College. He emigrated to the United States, and supported himself by teaching until he was of age, when he returned to Ireland, to receive his fortune of £2,000, with which he opened a drapery shop on Broadway, New York. His clear head, straightforwardness in business transactions, and his rule of never misrepresenting the quality of goods made him successful from the first, and after some changes he established his business in a splendid marble structure, occupying a full "block" on Broadway.

He had agents for the purchase of goods in the leading European markets, and branch establishments in several minor cities and towns of the United States. His yearly sales are said latterly to have amounted to £10,000,000. During the Irish famine he sent an entire cargo of provisions for the relief of his suffering fellow countrymen. One of the most important of his permanent benefactions was the erection of an extensive residence in New York for working women. Mr. Stewart was strongly identified with the Republican party and the Federal cause during the war with the Southern States, and contributed largely to the Sanitary Commission. He was one of the United States representatives at the Paris Exhibition of 1867. In March 1869, he was nominated by President Grant for Secretary of the United States Treasury, but was found to be ineligible because of being engaged in business on his own account. He died in New York, 10th April 1875, aged 71, leaving his fortune of some £15,000,000 almost entirely to his wife.

Sources

37a. Biographical Dictionary—American Biography: Francis S. Drake. Boston, 1876.

233. Manuscript and Special Information, and Current Periodicals.

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