Question of the Week

Philadelphia businessman Adolf Borie held what position in the U.S. government?

Sunday, 9/8/13

 

Answer: Secretary of the Navy

 

When General Ulysses S. Grant was elected president of the United States in 1869, he appointed his close friend Adolph Borie, a businessman from Philadelphia, secretary of the navy even through Borie was not qualified for the job. Borie was flattered, but resigned from the appointment after four months, citing poor health.

Borie was a Philadelphia native and University of Pennsylvania graduate who became a partner in his father’s mercantile business, known as J. J. Borie & Son. Borie earned a reputation as a respectable businessman, and he was elected president of the Bank of Commerce in 1848. He was a manager of the Philadelphia Saving Fund, manager of Pennsylvania Hospital, and president of the Philadelphia Club.

Borie was also a very generous supporter of the Republican Party. During the Civil War he equipped and financed many troops, and in 1862 was one of the original founders of the Union League. Borie and his wife, Elizabeth McKean, whom he married in 1839, often visited the Grants at the White House. They also invited the Grants to visit them at their country home at Torresdale, located on the Delaware River. In 1879, Borie briefly joined the Grants on a European excursion, and he passed away shortly after his return home in 1880.

The Borie Family Papers ay HSP (#1602) span a period from 1791 to 1888, and document the professional lives and personal relationships of John Joseph Borie and his son Adolph.  Commercial records highlight their business efforts and while papers document the Bories’ travels through Europe and Adolph Borie’s close personal friendship with Ulysses S. Grant. 

Image: Adolf Borie, photograph by F. Gutekunst (circa 1870)

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