Stewart, Alexander Turney
STEWART, ALEXANDER TURNEY (1803-1876), American merchant, was born, of Scotch descent, at Lisburn, near Belfast, Ireland, on the 12th of October 1803. He studied for the ministry for about two years at Trinity College, Dublin, emigrated to New York in 1823, and in 1825 opened a small dry goods store. In 1848 he built at the corner of Chambers Street and Broadway a store which became the wholesale department upon the completion in 1862 of the large store on Broadway between Ninth and Tenth Streets. The business grew to enormous proportions for those days, with foreign branches in Manchester, Belfast, Glasgow, Berlin, Paris and Lyons. Stewart was chairman of the commission sent by the United States tothe Paris Exposition of 1867. In 1869 he was appointed secretary of the treasury by President U. S. Grant, but the Senate refused to confirm the appointment because of an old law excluding from the office any one interested in the importation of merchandise. Grant asked Congress to repeal the law, and Stewart offered to transfer his business to trustees and to give its proceeds while he held office to charitable institutions, but the nomination was never confirmed. Stewart sent to Ireland a shipload of provisions during the famine of 1846; he manufactured and sold to the government, at less than the prevailing rates, great quantities of cotton cloth for the use of the army during the Civil War; he took an active part in the prosecution of the " Tweed Ring " in New York; he sent a shipload of flour to the French sufferers from the Franco-German War, and he gave $50,000 to the sufferers from the Chicago fire of 1871. In 1869 he bought some 7000 acres on the Hempstead Plain, Long Island, New York, and established Garden City for working men. The cathedral of the Incarnation (Protestant Episcopal) dedicated in 1885, was erected in Garden City by Stewart's widow as a memorial to him. He died in New York on the loth of April 1876,' leaving the bulk of his great fortune to his widow, Mrs Cornelia (Clinch) Stewart (1802-1886) 2 . His large art collection was sold by auction in New York in 1887.
See William O. Stoddard, " Alexander Turney Stewart," in Men of Business (New York, 1893); " A Merchant Prince," in Chambers' s Journal (1876), vol. liii. ; Edward Crapsey, " A Monument of Trade," in The Galaxy (1882), vol. ix.; " Stewart's," in The Nation (1882), vol. xxxiv. ; " The Story of a Millionaire's Grave," in Chambers' s Journal (1888), vol. Ixv. ; and George W. Walling, Recollections of a New York Chief of Police (New York, 1887).
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)