Sunday, January 3, 2010

Fifer James Swan

James Swan was born in Scotland 1754, and came to Boston as a boy.  He was a member of "The Sons of Liberty" and participated in the Boston Tea Party.  He was wounded twice at Bunker Hill.  He married into money and purchased a group of island off the coast of Maine. On Swan Island he built a colonial mansion for himself.  I understand the house still exists.  He also owned a famous ship named "Sally."  It took a load of lumber to France and the empty ship was then loaded with furniture, tapestries and valuable paintings belonging to Marie Antoinette.  She never made it, but some of her belongings can still be seen at the Dock House which was to be her home.  An unconfirmed story says that he paid off the national debt of $2,024,899.93 from his own pocket. On July 9, 1795,  he reported that the national debt no longer existed.  Thirteen years later, he was cast into a debtor's prison for nonpayment of a judgment of $150,000 obtained by a German company.  Swan denied that he owed the money and rather than pay it, spent 22 years in prison.  At the outbreak of the July revolution of 1830, he was liberated but died three days after his release.  Not sure if there is a moral to this story, or not.

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