Archibald Gracie

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Archibald Gracie (June 25, 1755 – April 11, 1829) was a Scottish-born shipping magnate and early American businessman and merchant in New York City and Virginia whose spacious home, Gracie Mansion, now serves as the residency of the Mayor of New York City.

Gracie was the son of a weaver named William Gracie, of Dumfries, Scotland. In 1776, he moved to Liverpool and clerked for a London shipping firm. He used his earnings to purchase a part interest in a merchant ship.

Life in America[edit]

In April 1784, he sailed to America with a cargo of goods that were his own profit stock. He used the proceedings to invest in a mercantile company in New York City. He later moved to Petersburg, Virginia, and engaged in the export of tobacco to Great Britain.[1] In 1793, he moved back to New York and became a commissary merchant and shipowner (Archibald Gracie and Sons, East India Merchants). Gracie was a business partner of Alexander Hamilton and a friend of John Jay. In 1784, he married Esther Rogers, a daughter of Samuel Rogers of Norwalk, Connecticut, and granddaughter of the former governor of the Connecticut Colony, Thomas Fitch.[2]

Gracie was a member of the Tontine Association, which supervised the trading of stocks. Gracie expanded his interests and became active in the banking and insurance industries. He was an incorporator of the Eagle Fire Insurance Company and vice president of the New York Insurance Company, a director of the United States Bank and of the Bank of America, and Vice-President of the New York Chamber of Commerce from 1800 to 1825. After the death of his wife, Gracie married Elizabeth Fitch. His two marriages yielded ten children. Gracie was the 18th president of the St. Andrews' Society of New York, serving from 1818-23.[2]

The grave of Archibald Gracie in Woodlawn Cemetery

In 1798, Gracie purchased a large tract of land on Horn's Hook near the East River, where the following year he constructed a large two-story wooden mansion on the crest of a hill. Used primarily as his country home, the mansion quickly became a hub of the New York city social scene. Gracie's distinguished guests included future United States president John Quincy Adams and future French king Louis Phillippe. Gracie sold the estate in 1823 to pay off debts. It was acquired by New York City in 1891 and serves as the residency of the Mayor of New York City.[1]


His daughter Eliza married Charles King, the president of Columbia University. Another daughter, Sarah, married U.S. congressman James Gore King. Gracie's grandson Archibald Gracie III, a general in the Confederate Army, was killed at the Siege of Petersburg during the American Civil War. Great-grandson Archibald Gracie IV was a military officer and writer who survived the sinking of the RMS Titanic in 1912. Coincidentally, one of Gracie IV's fellow travellers on the Titanic was John Jacob Astor IV, great-grandson of frequent Gracie Mansion visitor (and personal friend of Gracie I) John Jacob Astor.[3]


  • Morrison Jr., George Austin, History of Saint Andrew's Society of the State of New York, 1756-1906. New York: 1906.
  • American Heritage magazine


  1. ^ a b American Heritage magazine Retrieved 2008-11-14.
  2. ^ a b Morrison, p. 91.
  3. ^ Twenty-fifth Annual Report of the American Scenic and Historic Preservation Society, 1920, Albany: J. B. Lyon, p. 156.