The world’s richest person in every decade

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The son of a naval captain, Stephen Girard was born in Bordeaux, France in 1750, and went to sea at an early age, before settling in Philadelphia in 1776 where he set himself up as a merchant. Girard racked up an immense fortune importing and exporting goods in the bustling city, and had become the richest private individual in the world by 1810.