Who Is George Peabody Philanthropist?

Who Is George Peabody Philanthropist?

Who George Peabody Philanthropist?

George Peabody Philanthropist:  George Peabody, (born Feb. 18, 1795, South Danvers [now Peabody], Mass., U.S.—died Nov. 4, 1869, London, Eng.), American-born merchant and financier whose banking operations in England helped establish U.S. credit abroad.

Born into a poor family in Massachusetts, Peabody went into business in dry goods and later into banking. In 1837 he moved to London (which was then the capital of world finance) where he became the most noted American banker and helped to establish the young country’s international credit. Having no son of his own to whom he could pass on his business, Peabody took on Junius Spencer Morgan as a partner in 1854 and their joint business would go on to become J.P. Morgan & Co. after Peabody’s 1864 retirement.

In his old age, Peabody won worldwide acclaim for his philanthropy. He founded the Peabody Trust in Britain and the Peabody Institute and George Peabody Library in Baltimore and was responsible for many other charitable initiatives. For his generosity, he was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal and made a Freeman of the City of London, among many other honors.

George Peabody Philanthropist
George Peabody Philanthropist

Was Peabody College Of Education Named After George Peabody The Philanthropist?

Peabody’s philanthropy contributed considerably to funding academia and the arts. In 1857, the businessman founded the Peabody Institute of Baltimore in the city in which he lived for two decades. The Institute included an art gallery, music conservatory, a reference library, and a lecture hall. After that, Peabody funded the construction of other Peabody Institute Libraries in the eastern U.S. — one in Vermont, Massachusetts, and Washington, D.C

An illustration of Peabody Square Model Dwellings in Blackfriars Road, London. These buildings, which still exist today, were constructed in the typical style of early Peabody Trust developments.

In 1862, he founded the Peabody Trust, originally named the Peabody Donation Fund, and now commonly known simply as Peabody. The trust was meant as a means to build better and more stable housing for London’s poor. Writing in The Times in 1862, Peabody said the housing was meant to “ameliorate the condition of the poor and needy of this great metropolis and to promote their comfort and happiness.” Today, Peabody is one of London’s largest housing associations, with over 55,000 properties, housing over 111,000 residents.

George Peabody
George Peabody

George Peabody Philanthropist Signed Book

George Peabody never quite escaped the marks of his boyhood poverty. He routinely worked 10-hour days, every day of the week, and during one 12-year stretch he never took off three consecutive days. More visibly, he was frugal to the point of absurdity. His partner, Junius Morgan (father of J. Pierpont Morgan, who began his distinguished career in finance at the New York office of George Peabody), once found him standing in a drenching London rain. Morgan realized that Peabody had left the office 20 minutes earlier. Ron Chernow recounts their exchange: “’Mr. Peabody, I thought you were going home,’ the younger man said. ‘Well, I am, Morgan,’ Peabody replied, ‘but there’s only been a twopenny bus come along as yet and I am waiting for a penny one.’” At the time, Peabody had more than £1 million to his name.

In the early 1850s, Peabody’s interests began to turn to philanthropy. For his hometown of Danvers’ 1852 centennial celebration, he announced his plans to build the first Peabody Institute Library. The gift was followed by a number of similar benefactions throughout the United States. In 1857, he founded the Peabody Institute of Baltimore, which included a music conservatory, art gallery, lecture hall, and reference library. He built other Peabody Institute Libraries in Massachusetts, Vermont, and Washington, D.C. After a favorite nephew began teaching paleontology at Yale, Peabody founded a museum of archaeology and ethnology at Harvard and a museum of natural history at Yale.

In March 1862, Peabody wrote a letter to the Times of London, announcing his intention to create a trust, initially funded with £150,000, to “ameliorate the condition of the poor and needy of this great metropolis, and to promote their comfort and happiness.” The Peabody Donation Fund (since renamed the Peabody Trust) was chartered to build affordable housing for the workingmen of London. With gas lights, running water, subsidized rent, and smartly appointed dwellings, it was vastly superior to the housing stock otherwise available to the laboring poor. Peabody also ensured that the tenants were deserving, demanding punctual rent payments, instituting a nighttime curfew, and enforcing a morals code.

The gift was an instant sensation. Queen Victoria sent an adoring letter of thanks, enclosing a miniature portrait of herself and offering him a baronetcy or knighthood. (Peabody declined the titles.) Peabody proclaimed Prime Minister William Gladstone, “taught men how to use money and how not to be its slave.” He was the first American to be made Freeman of the City of London, and his statue was erected at the Royal Exchange. “From a full and grateful heart,” said the one-time infantryman who had borne arms against the British, the gift “has repaid me for the care and anxiety of fifty years of commercial life.” Peabody was so pleased with the donation that shortly before his death in 1869, he increased his total contribution to £500,000.

From 1866 to 1867, Peabody visited the United States and toured the American South. He was shocked by the wreckage he found. Eager to help, he announced the creation of the Peabody Education Fund, endowed with $2.1 million and charged with restoring primary and secondary education in West Virginia and the eleven states of the former Confederacy. Peabody offered relatively small seed grants to counties and districts, requiring local leaders to provide matching funds and charter the schools under state legislation. The Peabody Education Fund worked for 47 years, promoting and sustaining public schools and funding teacher training institutes throughout the South.

George Peabody Philanthropist When Oung

  1. Despite being born into a poor family in Massachusetts in 1795 and having little education, Peabody went on to accumulate an extravagant fortune as a trade financier in London.
  2. Thrifty in his habits but magnanimous with his donations, Peabody endowed dozens of educational institutions and libraries in the U.S.
  3. The Peabody Trust is still one of the largest housing organizations in the U.K.
  4. Peabody, who never married, is remembered today by numerous schools and institutes.
  5. Peabody’s hometown changed its name from South Danvers to Peabody a year before his death in 1869.


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