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is so! Well, then, who are to be the favoured few that will gain admittance into this splendid temple? Not the poor orphans, we guess; but the orphans of the privileged few of the most influential families-of the would-be aristocrats of Philadelphia--the offspring of those who contrive to live upon the produce of the labour of the “ leather-apron corps” in every part of the world. Well, well! if the produce of the toil and labour of Stephen Girard is to be prostituted to this purpose, perhaps the more you display your extravagance in building the temple, the better. But, then, we hope you will be consistent-that all your buildings and arrangements around your splendid monument of folly will correspond with it; otherwise your temple will remind us of a proud and senseless fop, with a fine ruffle but no shirt.
The aristocrats of Europe are consistent, and let us hope that our Philadelphia aristocrats will follow their example. But here we see a difficulty in the way. All the funds left by Stephen Girard would not be sufficient to pay the expenses of the erection of such an establish
Our Philadelphia gentry would require the power and purse of Louis XIV. to enable them to finish such an establishment. But this is the age of revolutions, and probably a revolution may arise which will hurl the violators of Stephen Girard's will into powerless insignificance before they have laid the foundations of their folly: and, high as they intend to raise the pillars of useless ornaments, depend upon it the indignation of the people will rise higher, and, possessing the spirit and strength of Sampson, overthrow them.
5th. People of New York and of New Orleans, are you aware of the projects and doings of our Philadelphia gentry ? Are you willing to allow these violators of the will of Stephen Girard to deprive five hundred of your poor orphan boys of all the benefits which Stephen Girard provided for them for ever? If not, it is time for you to express your feelings of indignation at the doings of these gentlemen. They say there will be funds enough left after throwing away one million dollars on ornaments which will be worse than useless—although Stephen Girard expressly directs them to "avoid useless ornaments." Perhaps enough may be left to teach the orphan sons of the gentlemen of Philadelphia how to live upon the industry of the labourers of the whole Union. But, liberal as the funds are, we think one dollar should not be wasted until every orphan boy in the Union is well fed, clothed, and taught.
6th. People of New York and of New Orleans, if you are satisfied with the doings of these gentry-so be it; if not, it is high time for you to express your sentiments : you have a deep interest at stake. If the will of Stephen Girard be faithfully executed, thousands of your sons will be rendered really good and useful members of society by it, and they and their poor dying parents will have cause to bless the name of the giver of so many good gifts, but which gifts these unfaithful stewards are attempting to prostitute to a worse than useless purpose.
MEMORIAL TO THE SENATE AND HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, ON THE SUBJECT OF STEPHEN GIRARD'S LEGACY TO THE ORPHANS OF PENNSYLVANIA, NEW YORK, AND NEW ORLEANS. BY JAMES RONALDSON. PHILADELPHIA. 1835.
Advertisement. The following Memorial, on the subject of Stephen Girard's legacy to the Orphans of Pennsylvania, New York, and New Orleans, although before the State Assembly, whether it be, or be not acted on, will not by that body be laid before the public, because printing memorials and petitions is not a legislative practice.
As some of the friends to splendid buildings have made unkind allusions to the Memorialist and his motives, it appeared proper that the Memorial should be published, that people may have the means of judging for themselves.
It is the matter and object of the Memorial that is interesting to the public. As respects the signer, on such occasions it is not worth spending a thought on who or what he is, yet, if it can amuse any one to do so, there can be no objections to it; and if it is the pleasure of any to deal harshly with the man or his motives on the present occasion, they will be left to the uninterrupted enjoyment of all the happiness such a course can afford them.
TO THE HONOURABLE THE SENATE AND HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF
THE COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA IN GENERAL ASSEMBLY MET:
That a very
The Memorial of the subscriber respectfully represents
little reflection on the circumstances of the poor orphans in this and all countries will convince every man of sound mind or humane feelings that they are, of all the unfortunate classes of society, the very one that is most helpless, friendless, and forlorn; and who, themselves, have had no agency in producing this sad result. They are a class that, from the nature of things, are incapable of doing aught for themselves; though their wants are many, their means and friends have been few, and the former sometimes not well managed.
It is a case of the latter kind that, on this occasion, brings me before you as a memorialist; and I earnestly pray the legislature to bear with me a short time, while I lay before the Representatives of the People a matter interesting to the honour of the State, to humanity, and to justice.
In this matter your memorialist has no personal interest, and believes that he is solely influenced by a desire to see the principles of justice and humanity strictly adhered to in all matters confided to the integrity and honour of Pennsylvania : and to the end that the rights of poor orphans may not be entangled in party feelings or subjects foreign to them, through the motives that might be ascribed to particular men, where there are many subscribers, your memorialist has assumed the individual responsibility of bringing the subject before the Representatives of the People of Pennsylvania, and hopes that this paper will be received as the Memorial of Poor ORPHANS.
The late Stephen Girard, merchant and mariner of Philadelphia, by
his last will appropriated a very large sum of money to the maintenance and education of poor orphan children ; so large a sum that, judging from his own language, he considered it more than probably would be required for the support of all the poor orphans of Pennsylvania; for in his will there is a proviso, that in the event there are not as many poor orphans in Pennsylvania as require all the means he appropriated to this purpose, the surplus shall be employed in supporting the poor orphans of the cities of New York and New Orleans. Mr. Girard would not have made such a proviso if he had supposed that the mighty means were to fall short of maintaining the orphans of Pennsylvania, if they were duly applied to the object. For him to suspect they were insufficient, and to make such a proviso, would lead to the inference that he purposely put an insult on two cities which it is evident, by his language, he recollected with feelings of pleasure and satisfaction.
The citizens of Philadelphia, in this matter, are left not the heirs of Stephen Girard, but his trustees; and, judging from what these citizens have done, and are doing, and what it appears they purpose to do, your memorialist is impressed with the belief that they, as trustees, have not understood the injunctions of the testator; or, if they have understood, have not regarded them. To your memorialist it appears that Stephen Girard distinctly expressed his desire and his object; and these were, that certain means, by him specified, should be employed in maintaining, educating, and giving trades to poor orphans; and towards the accomplishing of this object, good and substantial buildings should be erected for the accommodation of these poor orphans. In positive terms he forbids useless ornament, and enjoins neatness, but avoiding all unnecessary expense.
From the language of the will, the style of building. that Mr. Girard directs can be understood by any person who has a claim to common sense. This is manifest from what he has said on the subject; and it is still made more evident from the fact that the poor orphans are to be indentured to the college before they can be admitted to its benefits; and are by the trustees to be apprenticed to tradesmen, with whom they are to learn trades. One part of the will explains another, in the simplest and most satisfactory manner. It is evident that his purpose was to maintain and educate poor orphans, and then to have them bred tradesmen, &c.id Eva
He tells his trustees that he does not recommend the teaching of Latin and Greek, although he does not forbid it. What he has himself said on the subject of the buildings, the notice he takes himself of the classics, and the apprenticing of the orphans to learn trades, all must satisfy any rational man that Stephen Girard has not authorized the costly style of building and expenditure of money that the trustees have adopted. et ei
In place of respecting the conditions specified in Mr. Girard's will, the citizens of Philadelphia appear, from the time that this great duty devolved on them, to have neglected their obligations; for, in place of carrying out the testator's directions in regard to building the house he ordered, they advertised for plans, and unnecessarily spent what was intended for maintaining poor orphans on plans and pictures, which had no resemblance to the directions and objects of Stephen Girard. From this first departure they have pursued one uninterrupted course
of disregard to the object he had in view, to wit,' the maintenance and education of the poor orphans of Pennsylvania, the cities of New York and New Orleans.
Judging from the house that these trustees have begun, and are now building, the years they have been employed on it, the progress made, and the money expended, it is reasonable to suppose that the buildings requisite to complete the whole, in conformity to what is begun, will require twelve or fifteen years of time and fifteen hundred thousand dollars of money to finish them. The inevitable consequences of this are, that the money Stephen Girard intended to be employed in maintaining the poor orphans of Pennsylvania and the cities of New York and New Orleans is to be squandered in ostentatious, useless architecture, by which a perpetual succession of the poor orphans of New Orleans, New York, and finally some of those belonging to Pennsylvania, are to be sacrificed for ever, and this fearful outrage on these helpless creatures is committed to gratify vanity and bad passions. The act must entail disgrace on the citizens of Philadelphia and Pennsylvania.
It is evident that the means to make these improper buildings are taken first from the poor orphans of the city of New Orleans, then of New York, and, lastly, some of your own must be sacrificed.
The present course has its foundation in a violation of justice, and its results must be bad. No man who pretends to the possession of common sense can suppose that palaces are proper places for rearing and educating poor orphans, or any youths who are to fill the business stations of life, and earn their bread in this or any other country. Let us ask ourselves what the feelings of a youth are likely to be on his leaving the patrician palace and going to the bench, the plough, the anvil, the forecastle, &c., when, looking round the shop, he thinks of the palace; the lad must feel miserable, and turn with disgust from all around him.
Buildings, such as the trustees are now making with the poor orphans' money, when finished, will prove palaces, and suited for preparing the children of the rich for the profession of the law, medicine, or divinity, and increasing the classes that are sure to superabound in all wealthy communities, and will be supplied by the rich, whose means should be spent in educating their own children, and not saved by the legacy of Stephen Girard, or any one else ; such palaces are not suitable for the rearing of industrious, manly tradesmen.
It is not my purpose, for it is not necessary, to enter into the details and minutiæ of Mr. Girard's will; it is a paper not difficult to under
the benevolent purpose of the testator could soon be made to operate beneficially on the poor orphans designated by Mr. Girard. All that is wanting is simply to explain the will by itself and common sense, carefully avoiding the sophistry and costly prevarications of professional law ---for it has been known to supersede legislative intention.
Mr. Girard's object was not building houses. His object was the maintenance and education of poor orphans; the house-building is merely a means required to accomplish the end.
Considering the situation that the trustees have brought things to, the vast waste of money and loss of time, and the prospect before us,
it is evident that generations of poor orphans are to lose their interest in this grand legacy, while the funds required to build the splendid palaces
are so to diminish the general means that the reversion left to New Orleans and New York is to be entirely swallowed up.
If this course is not arrested by the interposition of the state, Pennsylvania will become identified with the trustees, and share the scorn of the world and the curses of the two defrauded cities. Harsh as these terms may appear in this Memorial, and at this time, they are what will be employed against us whenever there appears a poor orphan in one or other of those cities, or a stranger looks at the majestic pile of buildings and recollects the fund from which their cost was paid.
It is only necessary for a Pennsylvanian or citizen of Philadelphia to change the position of the parties to acquire a just view of the affair ;-let him suppose that Stephen Girard had placed the trusteeship in the citizens of New York or New Orleans.
us turn from this gloomy picture, and elevate our minds by contemplating what may be done by an efficient interposition of the state authority, and the funds applied to their destined end. Such was the great amount of means left by Stephen Girard, that, if honestly and economically employed, shunning unnecessary expense, and guarding against useless fees and salaries, it is reasonable to suppose there would have been enough to take care of all Pennsylvania's poor orphans, and wherewith to educate a number from New York and New Orleans. The happy effects that would have resulted to New Orleans, New York, and Pennsylvania, from a current supply of well-educated young tradesmen, going to New Orleans and New York with the sober and industrious habits that characterize Pennsylvanian tradesmen, would, in time, have produced a moral effect beneficial to all parties, and most honourable to Pennsylvania. - It is impossible to estimate the happy consequences that would result from the kind feelings such an intercourse would produce between New Orleans and New York (two of the most important cities in America) and Pennsylvania.
One of the political consequences to the country would be to raise up, in the persons of poor orphans, citizens whose good sense and disciplined minds would exercise great influence in accustoming the citizens to think of the qualifications of men before they voted for them to be officers. These poor orphans would become conservators of peace, order, and justice at our elections; an influence that is yearly becoming more and more wanted. Men so educated are equally important to those who are rich as those who are poor. The number of well-informed men, with disciplined minds and correct morals, should, by every means, be increased, until this would be the entire character of our electors.
Your memorialist does not presume to determine what course your honourable bodies should pursue in this important matter; but, as a citizen interested in the honour of Pennsylvania and Philadelphia, and as feeling for the friendless, helpless poor orphans, I have deemed it my duty thus to call your attention to the manner in which the trustees are executing their duties towards the poor orphans of New Orleans, New York, and Pennsylvania ; and also to lay before the world my protest against their conduct in spending what has been left for the education and maintenance of poor orphans in building palaces, paying useless fees and improper salaries, &c. &c., whereby the in