MG-252. STEPHEN GIRARD COLLECTION, 1786-1856 (bulk 1828-1842).
Stephen Girard was a Philadelphia merchant, financier, and philanthropist, who engaged in foreign trade and owned eighteen seagoing vessels. He also became involved in real estate, insurance, and banking. His will, a copy of which is included in the collection, stipulated large sums of money for charities and for the establishment of Girard College. Though challenged by the heirs, the will was upheld by the United States Supreme Court in the landmark case of Vidal et al. v. the City of Philadelphia, a classic in American legal history in clarifying the laws regarding charities. The will contains several references to African Americans, including mention of his "black woman" Hannah, to whom he gave an annual sum of two hundred dollars for the remainder of her life. He also specified that part of his real and personal estate near Washita, Louisiana, including thirty slaves, be given to his friend Judge Henry Bree.