Samuel Breck Biography
About Samuel Breck:Birth And Background | Samuel Breck Moves To Sweetbriar | Politics, Religion And Business | Arts And Charity Work | Diary And Other Writings
Samuel Breck wrote this diary during the years he lived at Sweetbriar Mansion, which at the time was the countryside. In 1999 Nicholas B. Wainwright of The Historical Society of Pennsylvania compiled this “About Samuel Breck” section and the subsequent diary entries for publication in paper form. A sample of these diary entries are organized on this website according to topic.
Birth And Background
During the first half of the nineteenth century Samuel Breck was one of Philadelphia’s outstanding citizens. Although not in business, and seldom occupying political office, his personality and character were such as to gain him the highest respect. At the numerous public meetings of the day, he was customarily called to the chair. A man of benign personality who is said never to have had a serious quarrel, he was a scholarly person, a man of reading and letters, and yet also one whose business judgment and financial acumen were well recognized.
Born in Boston in 1771, Breck was the eldest son of Samuel Breck, Sr., a socially prominent merchant who in 1779 was appointed fiscal agent to the French forces in America. This led to an intimacy with their leaders and resulted in his sending his son to France to attend the aristocratic, military school at Soreze, where Samuel studied for more than four years before returning to Boston in 1787. This experience, unusual, perhaps unique, for an American, was strengthened by a second visit, to the Continent and a lengthy stay in England in 1790 – 1791.
In 1792 Samuel Breck accompanied his parents to Philadelphia, where they were to remain and to enjoy years of well-merited distinction as social leaders in the nation's capital. A measure of the elder Breck’s prestige may be seen in the offer he received of the presidency of the Bank of the United States. He declined the honor just, as years later, his son-in-law James Lloyd declined the presidency of the Second Bank of the United States.