Barker, Jacob

Barker, Jacob

(1779–1871) merchant, financier; born on Swan Island, Maine. He followed his brother to New York City at age 16 to become a seaman, but was persuaded to work for a company that sold goods on commission. He acquired part ownership in a fleet of merchant vessels. His first independent business venture (1801) ended in bankruptcy, but he started again as a ship merchant and became wealthy. Although he lost all his ships to the British in the War of 1812, during the war he helped raise money for the American government. In 1815 he founded the Exchange Bank on Wall Street, which failed in 1819. During the depression of 1823, the Life & Fire Insurance Company, of which he was a director, failed; he and six others were indicted for fraud, a charge that he fought in letters and published articles. He moved to Louisiana, became a lawyer, and during the Civil War, even though he had antisecessionist feelings, he presided over the Bank of Commerce. In 1869, sick and once again poor, he went to live at his son's home in Philadelphia.
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AT WORK: In the wildlife garden (from left) Chloe Barker, Jacob Garbutt, Luke Sheldon (PC101208Rreinwood)