Talk:James G. Birney

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Formatting Error[edit]

Under References, the 2011 biography, Apostles of Equality, has a coding error that is affecting display. Can someone please fix that?



James G. Birney was one of the founders of Bay City, Michigan. He arrived there about 1842. He was involved in land development and farming as well as political activities.User225937 19:54, 23 February 2007 (UTC)Frederick R. Welsh

Error in Posted Image[edit]

The portrait on this page, said to be painted by Asa Park c1818, is actually that of James G. Birney's father, whose name was James Birney (1767-1839). The following info was extracted from "The Shurtleff and Lawton Families: Genealogy and History" by William Shurtleff, Pine Hill Press, Jan 1, 2005 - 541 pages (pgs. 315,316):

[ Born in 1767 in the north of Ireland, James Birney, secretly left his father's affluent home in County Cavan and embarked at Dublin in September 1783 to seek his fortune in America. He was 16 years old at the time, and had no money and little baggage. On the day of his arrival, he obtained employment in a wholesale and retail dry goods house, where he remained for the next five years. He then obtained a stock of goods on credit and in the fall of 1788 opened a store in Danville, Kentucky. In 1790 he married Martha Reed, a beautiful, intellectual woman from a wealthy family. The marriage proved a very happy one. James organized and became president of the local bank of Danville, where he served for many years.

James and Martha had two children in Danville: James Gillespie Birney and Anna Birney. The children's mother, Martha, died in 1795, when her firstborn was only three years old. Thus the father, James Birney, was left to raise two children by himself. In an article titled "James Birney and His Home", the Kentucky Advocate (14 July 1968, p.8), reported that James' "business enterprises were uniformly successful. For many years he was reputed to be the richest man in Kentucky and one of the most cordial in his hospitality." This occasioned the founding of Woodlawn. In 1799 he purchased 120 acres for the estate, and the two-story brick mansion was finished in 1800, probably not in 1792 as is sometimes alleged. "Doubtless James envisioned a home that would descend in his family Just as the ancestral one in Ireland had come down through many years."

In religion, James was a zealous Episcopalian. Support of the church was, for him, a matter of family pride. He was genial and hospitable, and had great moral and physical courage. Though he owned 20 slaves on his Kentucky estate, he avoided treating them harshly, to the reported despair of his overseers.

His active life was checked in 1828, when he fell while mounting his horse and fractured his thigh. He had to use crutches for the rest of his life. He eventually died in 1839 on his estate in Danville, well after his children were grown and married. At his death Woodlawn passed out of Birney hands, for his daughter had already married and moved away, and his only son, James G., had left Kentucky, never to return. In 1968 the estate was still a Kentucky historical landmark. ]

JMBrouillet (talk) 00:58, 11 June 2015 (UTC)

Correction re portrait image[edit]

The portrait image shown upper right, which was downloaded from The Athenaeum, IS NOT of the subject James Gillespie Birney (1792-1857), but rather that of his father James Birney (1767-1839), who was amongst the richest men in Kentucky at the time (1818). It should be rather obvious, for the subject of the painting in 1818 would only have been 26 years old, and the image is of a much older man. That the sitter was the father can be verified at:

JMBrouillet (talk) 16:04, 16 June 2015 (UTC)