Philanthropist and merchant, born at Cork, Ireland, 10 May, 1832; died at New York, 21 March, 1904. His father was originally from Queen's County, where the Graces lived from the days of their ancestor, Raymond Le Gros, who went to Ireland with Strongbow ; his mother, a Russell from Tipperary, was a convert to the Catholic Faith. James Grace, his father, went from Ireland to Peru in 1850, but not being successful there, returned to Ireland, while his son, William Russell, remained behind and in time became a partner with the firm of John Bryce at Callao. This firm became Grace Brothers & Co., and W. R. Grace & Co., with offices in New York, San Francisco, and every city of importance on the west coast of South America. Grace also established, at New York, The New York and Pacific Steamship Co., and other financial enterprises. In 1859 he married Lillias Gilchrist of Thomaston, Maine.
He left Peru in the year 1864 and for a time lived in Brooklyn, then in 1878 moved to New york. At the time of the famine in Ireland in 1878 and 1879 his firm contributed to the relief fund one-fourth the cargo of provisions sent in the steamship Constellation for the famine stricken. This fact and others made him so popular that he was nominated for Mayor of New york, and, in spite of much opposition from bigoted sources, elected in 1880. He was the first Catholic to hold that office. He was re-elected in 1884 and served a second term. An attempt to induce him to accept a nomination for a third term was made, but he declined to run.
A fact that best shows the Christian character of the man is that during his two terms as mayor he went to Mass every morning in the neighbouring church of St. Agnes before going to official work. His chief benevolent work was the foundation of the Grace Institute in May, 1897, which he dedicated to the memory of his parents. The object of this institution was to give free tuition to women in dressmaking, stenography, typewriting, book-keeping, and domestic science. The poor are also generally helped by this institution. He was promped to found and endow it after a study of the economic conditions of workmen's families during a strike among the employees of one of his enterprises. The institution is non-sectarian, and is under the charge of the Sisters of Charity.
The Catholic Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. This easy-to-search online version was originally printed in fifteen hardcopy volumes.
Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions, national, political or factional. In the determination of the truth the most recent and acknowledged scientific methods are employed, and the results of the latest research in theology, philosophy, history, apologetics, archaeology, and other sciences are given careful consideration.
No one who is interested in human history, past and present, can ignore the Catholic Church, either as an institution which has been the central figure in the civilized world for nearly two thousand years, decisively affecting its destinies, religious, literary, scientific, social and political, or as an existing power whose influence and activity extend to every part of the globe. In the past century the Church has grown both extensively and intensively among English-speaking peoples. Their living interests demand that they should have the means of informing themselves about this vast institution, which, whether they are Catholics or not, affects their fortunes and their destiny.
Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: - 1911; Volume 12: - 1911; Volume 13: - 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912
Catholic Online Catholic Encyclopedia Digital version Compiled and Copyright © Catholic Online