Peabody, George

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Peabody, George

George Peabody (pē´bädē, –bədē), 1795–1869, American financier and philanthropist, b. South Danvers (now Peabody), Mass. At the age of 11 he was apprenticed to a grocer, and later (1814) he became a partner in a dry-goods firm in Georgetown, D.C. (now in Washington, D.C.). This firm moved to Baltimore, and he established branches in New York City and Philadelphia. While on a business trip to London, Peabody negotiated (1837) a large British loan that helped save the finances of the state of Maryland, but he refused a commission for his services. Peabody settled (1837) permanently in London; there he set up a brokerage business that became increasingly prosperous, later taking on as a partner Junius Spencer Morgan. Peabody used his influence to better Anglo-American relations and financed the exhibition of American products at the Crystal Palace exhibition. Prominent among Peabody's philanthropies were large funds given for tenement clearance in London and the Peabody Education Fund of more than $2,000,000, to promote education in the South (partly used for the George Peabody College for Teachers, in Nashville, Tenn., which is now part of Vanderbilt Univ.). He also contributed to museums, universities, and libraries throughout the United States and endowed the archaeological museum of Harvard and the museum of physical sciences at Yale.

See biography by F. Parker (1971).

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