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[63]

That English gold saved the honor of the Empire State, and the fact that her father procured the loan was the greatest asset in her inheritance from the old firm.

Mr. Ward did not see the kegs, for he was in bed, prostrated by a severe fit of sickness brought on by his labors for the public honor. The few years that remained to him were a very martyrdom, his old enemy, rheumatic gout, attacking him more and more fiercely; but his spirit was indomitable. He labored almost single-handed to establish the Bank of Commerce, and became its first president, stipulating that he should receive no compensation. What he did receive was his death-warrant. The dampness of the freshly plastered walls of the new building brought on in the spring of 1839 two successive attacks so severe that he could not rally from them. Still he toiled on, giving all his energies to perfect and consolidate the enterprise which he believed would be of lasting benefit to his beloved city.

In October of the same year came another financial crisis. The banks of Philadelphia and the Southern States suspended specie payments, and every effort was made to induce the New York banks to follow suit. Mr. Ward was ill at Newport, but hearing the news he hurried back and threw himself into the conflict, exhorting, sustaining, encouraging.

A friend protested, warning him of the peril to his enfeebled health of such exertions. “I should esteem life itself not unworthily sacrificed,” said Mr. Ward, “if by word or deed, I could aid the banks in adhering faithfully to their duty.”

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