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John Pintard, Jr. is Born

Today in Masonic History John Pintard, Jr. is born in 1759.

John Pintard, Jr. was an American merchant and philanthropist.

Pintard was born on May 18th, 1759 in New York State. He was orphaned when he was still an infant. His mother passing away just 14 days after he was born, his father passing away when Pintard was just 18 months. He was raised by his uncle Lewis Pintard. After attending grammar school in Hempstead, New York he went on to attend the College of New Jersey, now Princeton University. He left school to join the patriot cause when the British reached New York City. He did go back and graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in 1776.

During the American Revolution Pintard served under his uncle Lewis as deputy commissary of prisoners at New York. His job was to examine and relieve the wants of the prisoners.

After the war, Pintard had inherited a legacy from his grandfather. He entered the mercantile business in New York City with his inheritance and was able to trade in China and East India trade. He became very successful and well known in the community and the mercantile business. In 1792 he lost his fortune when he bought into Alexander Hamilton's scheme to fund the national debt. He lost his entire fortune after he signed notes totaling a million dollars. He was eventually put in jail for his debt. Although he never recovered his fortune, he maintained a high standing in the community.

In 1803, Pintard traveled to New Orleans. He sent back various reports from the city about the French to the secretary of the treasury, as well as the minister to France James Monroe. Pintard's reports were instrumental in convincing Thomas Jefferson to move forward with the Louisiana Purchase.

After returning to New York in 1804, Pintard in 1805 laid down the structure which became the New York City public school system. He was also a founder of the New York Historical Society and the Massachusetts Historical Society.

Pintard's greatest contribution to American society was the introduction of the popular concept of Santa Claus, based on the Dutch legend of Sinterklaas. Pintard celebrated the feast of St. Nicholas annually according to his own papers. In 1810 he created a pamphlet calling for St. Nicholas to be the patron Saint of New York City. This was all done in conjunction with his friend, Washington Irving. Irving, in 1808 published a book about the history of New York and for the time cast Santa Claus as St. Nicholas.

Pintard passed away on June 21st 1844.

Pintard was a member of Holland Lodge No. 8, New York City, New York.

This article provided by Brother Eric C. Steele.