Nicholas Biddle, an American naval commander, born in Philadelphia, Sept. 10, 1750, killed at sea March 7, 1778. In 1765, on a voyage to the West Indies, he was left with two others on an uninhabited island, and lived there two months. In 1770 he entered the British navy. When Capt. Phipps, afterward Lord Mulgrave, was about to start on his exploring expedition, young Biddle, though a midshipman, deserted his own vessel and shipped as a seaman on the Carcass, serving through the cruise with Nelson, who was a mate of Phipps's vessel. On the commencement of the American revolution he returned to America, joined the colonists, and was made captain of the Andrew Doria, a brig of 14 guns and 130 men, in which he participated in Commodore Hopkins's attack on New Providence. After refitting in New London he was ordered on a cruise to the banks of Newfoundland, and in 1776 took among other prizes two transport ships with valuable cargoes and with a battalion of Highlanders. He was appointed to the command of the Randolph, a 32-gun frigate, in February, 1777, and speedily carried into Charleston four prizes. He was now made commander of a small fleet for a cruise in West Indian waters. In March, 1778, he was wounded in an action with the Yarmouth, an English ship.
While under the hands of a surgeon, he was blown up with the explosion of the magazine, the 315 men on board the Randolph all perishing except four.
Nicholas Biddle, an American banker, born in Philadelphia, Jan. 8, 1786, died there, Feb. 27, 1844. He was a son of Charles Biddle, vice president of Pennsylvania when Benjamin Franklin was the president, and nephew of Commodore Nicholas Biddle. He was a graduate of Princeton college, and became secretary of legation in Paris under Gen. Armstrong, and in London under Monroe. In 1807 he returned to Philadelphia, and commenced the practice of the law. He edited the "Port Folio" for a time in conjunction with Joseph Dennie, compiled a "Commercial Digest," and prepared the narrative of Lewis and Clarke's expedition. He was in the house of representatives of Pennsylvania 1810-11, and was distinguished by his efforts to establish a general system of education. Toward the close of the war of 1812-'15 he was a member of the state senate, and ardently supported the war. He wrote the report of the senate committee upon the propositions from the Hartford convention, which attracted great attention. In 1817 he was the candidate of the democratic party for congress, but was defeated by the federalists.
In 1819 President Monroe appointed him a government director of the United States bank, and in 1823, on the resignation of Langdon Oheves, he became its president, retaining this place during the violent agitations concerning that institution under Gen. Jackson, till the termination of its charter in 1836. He was then chosen president of the newly established United States bank of Pennsylvania. In 1839, his health being much impaired, he resigned, leaving the bank apparently in a prosperous condition. Two years afterward it was declared insolvent, on which occasion he published a series of letters in vindication of his administration. He was an earnest promoter of public improvements, and exercised by his popular manners, force of character, and financial ability, a commanding influence. He was president of the trustees of Girard college. His speeches and writings are elegant and vigorous.