Biddle, Nicholas, American naval officer
Biddle, Nicholas, 1750–78, American naval officer, b. Philadelphia. Biddle left the British navy in 1773. In the American Revolution he became captain in the patriot navy and daringly raided British shipping off the American coast. After receiving command (1777) of the ship Randolph, Biddle was killed and his ship destroyed in an encounter (1778) with the British warship Yarmouth off the coast of Barbados.
Biddle, Nicholas, American financier
Biddle, Nicholas, 1786–1844, American financier, b. Philadelphia. After holding important posts in the American legations in France and England, he returned to the United States in 1807 and became one of the leading lights of Port-Folio, a literary magazine, which he edited after 1812. He was also commissioned to write the history of the Lewis and Clark expedition, but turned over the job to Paul Allen, a Philadelphia journalist, when he was elected (1810) to the state house of representatives, where he served a single term. In 1819, President Monroe appointed him one of the government directors of the Bank of the United States. He became its president in 1823, and his administration illustrated his belief in the necessity of a central banking institution to stabilize the currency and curb the inflationary tendencies of the era. He became the leading target of the Jacksonians in their war against the bank. After the bank failed of recharter, Biddle operated it as a private bank until it collapsed (1841) as an aftermath of the Panic of 1837. He was charged with fraud but was subsequently acquitted. Biddle's public correspondence dealing with national affairs (1817–44) was edited by Reginald McGrane (1919).
See biography by T. P. Govan (1959); study by G. R. Taylor (1949); B. Hammond, Banks and Politics in America (1957, repr. 1967); R. V. Remini, Andrew Jackson and the Bank War (1967).
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Biddle, Nicholas(1786–1844) writer, banker, statesman; born in Philadelphia. A brilliant student and writer, he entered the University of Pennsylvania at age 10; by age 18, he was serving as secretary to the U.S. Minister to France. He returned to the U.S.A. in 1807 and became a lawyer. He wrote part of the History of the Expedition of Captains Lewis and Clark (1810–12) but gave the project away when he was elected to the state legislature. Always interested in literature, he became editor of Port Folio (1812), the leading literary journal at that time. Drawn to banking by his friend, James Monroe, and to the nation's need during the War of 1812, he eventually became president of the Bank of the United States (1822–36). His attempt to re-charter the Bank failed in the face of vigorous opposition from President Andrew Jackson. In retirement, he made his country home on the Delaware River, "Andalusia," into a center of refined intellectual life.
Biddle, Nicholas(1750–78) naval officer; born in Philadelphia. One of the first five captains commissioned by Congress (1775), he participated in the capture of New Providence Island, Bahamas (1776) and captured several British ships before his death in the explosion of his ship, the USS Randolph.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.