Grace, William Russell

Grace, William Russell

Grace, William Russell, 1832-1904, American financier, b. Queenstown, Ireland. He was in business in England and Peru before establishing (1865) W. R. Grace & Company in New York City. After Peru's defeat by Chile, Grace was among those who underwrote the Peruvian national debt, in return for extensive business concessions. The Grace firm established branches in many Latin American countries after 1895 and developed steamship operations. In 1880, Grace became the first Roman Catholic mayor of New York City and in two reform administrations opposed Tammany.

See biography by his grandson, J. P. Grace (1953).

William Russell Grace (born May 10, 1832, Ballylinan, County Laois, Ireland; died March 21, 1904, New York) was the first Roman Catholic mayor of New York and the founder of W. R. Grace and Company.


He began his business career in Peru, where he was a partner with the firm of John Bryce, later to become Grace Brothers & Co., and then W. R. Grace & Co.


William Russell Grace was a renowned philanthropist, at one point contributing a quarter of the aid delivered to Ireland aboard the steamship Constellation during the famine of the later 1870s. In 1897, he and his brother, Michael, founded the Grace Institute for the education of women, especially immigrants.

Reform politics

Opposing the famous Tammany Hall, Grace was elected as the first Irish American Catholic mayor of New York City in 1880. He conducted a reform administration attacking police scandals, patronage and organized vice; reduced the tax rate and broke up the Louisiana Lottery. Defeated the following year, he was re-elected in 1884 on an Independent ticket but lost again the following year. During his second term, Grace received the Statue of Liberty as a gift from France.

See also



  • Marquis James, Merchant Adventurer: The Story of W. R. Grace, Wilmington, Delaware: Scholarly Resources (1993) ISBN 0842024441

External links

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