George Peabody, A Biography

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International merchant and financier, benefactor of numerous philanthropies both in the United States and England, and the first American to be named an honorary citizen of the City of London, George Peabody never departed from the Puritan principles of industry, frugality, and humility by which he was reared. Born in 1795 to a Massachusetts family of modest means, Peabody received only four years of formal education. He was making his own way at the age of seventeen. By the time he was twenty-two, he had amassed more than forty thousand dollars; when he was thirty-two his assets amounted to $85,000. After moving to London in 1837, Peabody gained a multi-million dollar fortune through shrewd investments and a reputation for impeccable honesty and integrity. It is for his philanthropies, however, that Peabody is best remembered. A bachelor, he decided early to devote himself to the support of deserving causes. The Peabody Institute in Baltimore is considered a forerunner of the numerous foundations in America today. Peabody Institutes in other cities, Peabody Public Libraries, Peabody Museums of Science, the Peabody Conservatory of Music, and the Peabody Homes for the "industrious poor" in London all owe their existence to the benevolence of George Peabody. In the Southern states after the Civil War, he established the Peabody Education Fund, which made the free education of all races a public obligation. From this movement emerged George Peabody College of Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, still regarded as one of the premier schools of education in this country. In addition to an account of Peabody's accomplishments, this book offers a picture of Peabody the man - hisbroken engagement, his famous Fourth of July banquets in London, his troubles with gout, his worry over his nephew's extravagance, his distress about the Civil War - as well as the aura of the Victorian society in which he lived. A new chapter on Peabody's legacy, an updated bibliogr

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Vanderbilt University Press
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