Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
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DREXEL, Francis Martin, banker, born in Dornbirn, Austrian Tyrol, 7 April 1792 : died 5 June 1863. In 1803 he was sent to study Italian and the fine arts in a Catholic institution near Turin. On his return in 1809 he found his country invaded by the French, and to escape conscription he went to Switzerland and subsequently to Paris. In 1812 he returned to the Tyrol incognito, and, finding the conscription still in force, went to Berne and continued his study of painting. He sailed for the United States in 1817, from Amsterdam, and settled in Philadelphia. After a few years he went to Peru and Chili, painting portraits, among which was one of General Simon Bolivar, with whom he contracted a warm friendship. He visited South America twice, and went to Mexico, where he remained for some time. After his permanent settlement in Philadelphia he founded the banking house of Drexel & Co. in 1837, which represents one of the largest enterprises of that character in the United States. The Paris house, Drexel, Harjes & Co., was founded in 1868, and the New York house, Drexel, Morgan & Co., in 1871.
His son, Anthony Joseph Drexel, banker, born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1826, is now at the head of the Philadelphia bank, having been identified with this enterprise since the age of thirteen. He is zealous in pro-rooting science and art, especially music, and contributes largely to philanthropic and educational interests.
Another son, Joseph Wilhehn Drexel, banker, born 24 January 1833. His education was received in the Philadelphia high school, and he has traveled through Spain, Egypt, Syria, Turkey, and Greece. He retired from business in 1876. He holds the offices in New York of chairman of sanitary commission, commissioner of education, president of the New York philharmonic society, trustee of the Metropolitan museum of art, trustee of the National academy of sciences, and director of the Metropolitan opera house. Among his philanthropic interests is a 200acre farm near New York, where persons without work are lodged, clothed, fed, and taught, agriculture until places are procured for them. He owns a large tract of land in Maryland, which has been divided into lots, and houses, mills, etc., erected upon them. These farms are sold to poor persons at cost. About 7,000 acres in Michigan is destined for the same purpose.
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