Thursday, September 29, 2011

Massachusetts Reports on Life Insurance,

SEVENTEENTH ANNUAL REPORT OF THE INSURANCE COMMISSIONER. of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Part II. Life And Accident Insurance.
BOSTON: Wright & Potter, State Printers, 1872

Policies Terminated in 1871.

Summary of Insurance Outstanding.

Aggregated summary of new business transacted by all the Life Companies represented in Massachusetts, during the last sexennial period, commencing with the extraordinary development of 1866:

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Shameless Evidence of Foreknowledge

February 7, 1912, New York Times, TAKES CARNEGIE VAULTS.
Mercantile Safe Deposit Company Receives Transfer from the Original Buyers.

In accordance with the plan announced last month in THE TIMES by which the Carnegie Safe Deposit's Company's vaults at 115 Broadway were bought by a group of bankers identified with the Chase National Bank, the Guaranty Trust Company, and the American Exchange National Bank, who later took over the Mercantile Safe Deposit Company from the Bankers' Trust Company, the Mercantile Safe Deposit Company has increased its stock and purchased the Carnegie vaults from the original buyers.

The Mercantile Safe Deposit Company, which was formerly owned by the Equitable Life along with the Mercantile Trust Company, passed to the Bankers' Trust Company when the Equitable Trust Company absorbed the Mercantile Trust. Since the Equitable fire, which burned out the Mercantile Safe Deposit Company, the boxholders have to a large extent transferred their patronage to the Carnegie vaults. The group of bankers who have turned over the Carnegie Company's old vaults to their recently acquired Mercantile Safe Deposit Company purchased the vaults from the State Banking Department, which is liquidating the bankrupt Carnegie Company, for $375,000. The vaults, which were built of armor plate by the Bethlehem Steel Company, originally cost in the neighborhood of $800,000, but until the Equitable fire were a losing investment. Attempts had been made by the State Superintendent of Banking Van Tuyl to sell them to the Guaranty Trust Company, which is building across the street, but engineers found that they were built so that they could not be taken apart and moved.

In reorginizing the Mercantile Safe Deposit Company under the new control the old President of the company, William Giblin, who narrowly escaped death in the fire, has been re-elected, along with former Vice President John B. Russell. Lawrence A. Ramage was elected Treasurer and will have charge at the new location.

The Nation - Index of Articles

Transcipts from: The Nation

April 16, 1868, The Nation, Editorial, Page 306, A National Bureau of Life Insurance.
April 11, 1872, The Nation, Report of the Insurance Commissioner of the Commonwealth of Massacusetts
December 12, 1872, The Nation, No. 389, Page 374, The Week, (Mutual's Proposed Reduction in Premiums)
January 2, 1873, The Nation, Correspondence , What Should We Pay For Life Insurance?
January 9, 1873, The Nation, The Magazines for January, "Savings-Banks Life Insurance," By Elizur Wright.
October 8, 1874, The Nation, No. 484, Page 228, The Week,
June 3, 1875, The Nation, Correspondence, Page 375, LIFE INSURANCE COMMISSIONS.
March 15, 1877, The Nation, Editorial, No. 611, Page 157, THE LIFE-INSURANCE FAILURES.
May 24, 1877, The Nation, The Week, Page 300, "The failure of the Continental Life Insurance Company,"
November 8, 1877, The Nation, Report, Page 292, Number 645,
April 5, 1883, The Nation, No. 927, Page 302, Book Review, Walford's Insurance Cyclopaedia,February 23, 1905, The Nation, Page 146, Vol. 80, No. 2069, Editorial, The Equitable Controversy,
June 15, 1905, The Nation, Page 472, Vol. 80, No. 2085, Editorial, The New Turn In the Equitable.
July 27, 1905, The Nation, Vol. 81, No. 2091, Page 68, The Week,
September 14, 1905, The Nation, Vol. 81, No. 2098, Editorial, Page 212, The Insurance Investigation,
September 21, 1905, The Nation, Vol. 81, No. 2099, Page 232, Editorial, INSURANCE AND POLITICS.
September 28, 1905, The Nation, Vol. 81, No. 2100, Page 252, CORPORATION ABSOLUTISM.
September 28, 1905, The Nation, Should Life Insurance Be Cheaper. Editorial,
November 23, 1905, The Nation, Vol. 81, No. 2108, Page 414, Editorial, A MISUNDERSTOOD STATESMAN.
November 30, 1905, The Nation, Vol. 81, No. 2109, Page 436, A LITTLE INSURANCE HISTORY.
November 30, 1905, The Nation, Vol. 81, No. 2109, Page 436, Editorial, "SOLICITOUS ABOUT NEW YORK."
January 18, 1912, The Nation, “THE EQUITABLE FIRE.
January 18, 1912, The Nation, Vol. 94, No. 2429, Page 52, Fires and Human Nature.
February 27, 1913, The Nation, Vol. 96, No. 2487, Page 203, Literature. Precursors of Life Assurance. An Introduction to the History of Life Insurance.
May 20, 1939, The Nation, [Page 592] A Case Study in Reform,

Friday, September 23, 2011

January 15, 1912, Best's Insurance News, Volumes 10-12,

"Editorial : Two Lessons of the Equitable Fire," by A.M. Best Company,


The recent destruction by fire in this city of the home office building of the Equitable Life Assurance Society has many lessons for insurance men. It is noteworthy that the Society carried no insurance on this building, the stated reason for this action being that the directors had two appraisals of their property, one of which showed that without the building it was worth $300,000 more than with the building; in other words, that it would cost $300,000 more than the value of the material in the building to raze it. Without entering into any discussion of the credibility of this statement, we direct attention to the fact that the company in its returns to the various State Departments did not report that there was no insurance on this building, for the excellent reason that the Convention statement form, representing the combined wisdom and experience of the Insurance Commissioners of the various States, does not require insurance companies to report to the Departments whether or not buildings owned by them, and carried in their statements as assets, are insured. This appears to be one of those extraordinary oversights which are only discovered through such an occurrence as the destruction of the Equitable Building. Certainly it would appear that if insurance companies are allowed to take credit in their statements for the value of buildings owned by them, which might at any time be destroyed by fire, they should be required to keep these buildings insured in responsible companies, and to report the facts to the various Insurance Departments concerning this insurance. Where insurance companies loan money on mortgage, they are required to have insurance policies payable to them as collateral security, and to report in their annual statements the amount of insurance carried. This information has not been required, however, where buildings have been owned outright.

The fire was confined to the Equitable Building, and did not spread to any of the structures across the four streets which formed the Equitable block. This was due principally to the facts that the burnable property within the building, though considerable, was small in comparison, for instance, to the stock, fixtures and other inflammable material contained in any large mercantile building; that all the buildings adjacent to that of the Equitable Life were of fireproof construction; and that the officers and men of the fire department gave their best thought and effort to conquering the fire, without hesitation risking even their lives. Chief Walsh, a fearless and experienced fire fighter, was killed "by being caught by falling debris while at work within the building. A strong wind was blowing at the time of the fire, and the temperature was so low that streams of water pumped on the building froze almost as soon as they touched it, in spite of the roaring furnace within. It is not pleasant to contemplate what might have occurred had this fire been on the windward edge of the dry-goods district, in which vast amounts of inflammable material are stored, with very few buildings of modern fireproof construction to act as fire breaks.

In other news:
page 5
Supervision of Companies
In a signed symposium in the Boston Globe last Sunday as to "which is the more desirable, National or State supervision of insurance," President Hall of the Massachusetts Mutual. Secretary W.H. Brown of the Columbian National and Samuel Davis, an agent of the Penn Mutual, argued in favor of State supervision, and George P. Field, president of the Boston Board and a member of the New England Policyholders' Protective Association of Equitable Life Policyholders, took the opposite view.

page 2
Germany Wants to Know.
A Berlin dispatch, dated July 7, says: "The Imperial Supervisory Office for Private Insurance Companies has demanded of the Equitable Life Assurance Society and Mutual Life Insurance Company of New York that they declare by August 1 in what manner they propose seperating their premium reserves on German policies from the general revenues and how they intend to invest them. The amounts affected are $7,500,000 of Equitable and $5,250,000 of Mutual."

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Troubles in Venezuela.

The Chronicle: a weekly journal, devoted to the interests of Insurance, Vol. XLII,
1888 - The Troubles in Venezuela.

To The Editor Of The Chronicle:
Sir: The following from the editorial columns of the New York Times is full of significance and of much interest at tikis time:

It is quite evident from the present advices that the election of Dr. Kojas Paul as president of Venezuela was not accomplished as harmoniously and quietly as had been at first declared. Armed resistance to it was attempted by General Crespo from the neighboring island of Trinidad as a base, and was responded to by a number of the people on the coast of Venezuela nearest to the island. The possibility of this result was indicated as long ago as last February by our Caracas correspondent, who wrote that a change had been made in the customary methods of election and that five of the candidates for the presidency had agreed to submit their claims to an electoral convention, while two others, one of whom was General Joaquin Crespo, had declined to do so. General Crespo was president of Venezuela in 1884 during one term in an interval between two terms of Guzman Blanco. The island of Trinidad is a favorite rendezvous of malcontents since il is under English sway and yet is but a short distance from the mainland. Official tidings now acknowledge that there was an outbreak, but declare that it has come to nothing and that the insurgent leaders everywhere are surrendering.

The president of Venezuela, it will be remembered, created Henry B. Hyde, the president of the Equitable Life, " Busto del Libertador," an act which many assert has had much to do with the present difficulty. One party thought that this conferring of titles upon Americans would give the United States too commanding a power in the Venezuelan republic. Again, it was argued that the new " Busto del Libertador " had agreed to insure the lives of the insurgents, giving eighty per cent off the first premiums and taking the balance in guano. This offended Crespo, but seemed satisfactory to Blanco, who of course expected assistance from the new" Busto del Libertador." Mr. Hyde"s sudden departure for Europe, as alleged, may have some connection with this difficulty, or it may not. His previous services, which rendered the conferring of the title a possibility, lead one to infer that "Busto del Libertador" is expected to materialize south—as the almanacs say—about this time. Bolivar.

From: The World Order: A Study in the Hegemony of Parasitism, The history and practices of the parasitic financial elite-- by: Eustace Mullins, 1984
Brown Brothers Harriman

Harriman employed judge Robert Scott Lovett as general counsel for Union Pacific. When Harriman and Otto Kahn were summoned by the ICC in 1897, Lovett advised them to refuse to answer all questions about their stock operations. In 1908, the Supreme Court upheld their refusal to talk. The records of this case, SC No. 133 US v. UP RR, later disappeared from the Library of Congress. In 1911, the Equitable Life Insurance building, which contained all the records of the Union Pacific RR, burned, destroying all UP papers to that date.

Brown Bros. backed the B & O steamship line in 1887, and went into joint venture with J & W Seligman Co. on a number of South American loans. In 1915, Brown Bros. combined with J.P. Morgan to float a series of Latin American loans, which in many instances were followed by revolutions in the respective countries. In the Nation, June 7, 1922, Oswald Garrison Villard noted: "The Republic of Brown Bros with J & W Seligman had reduced Haiti, Santo Domingo, and Nicaragua to the status of colonies with ruinous loans. Most of the loans were repaid in 1924."

This Is Your FBI: Brought to You by...Equitable Society Sponsorship

Equitable Sponsor: This Is Your FBI was a radio crime drama which aired in the United States on ABC from April 6, 1945 to January 30, 1953 for a total of 409 shows. FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover gave it his endorsement, calling it "the finest dramatic program on the air."

Producer-director Jerry Devine was given access to FBI files by Hoover, and the resulting dramatizations of FBI cases were narrated by Frank Lovejoy (1945), Dean Carleton (1946-1947) and William Woodson (1948-1953). Stacy Harris played the lead role of fictional Special Agent Jim Taylor. Others in the cast were William Conrad, Bea Benaderet, and Jay C. Flippen.

This Is Your FBI was sponsored during its entire run by the Equitable Life Assurance Society of the United States (now AXA Equitable Life Insurance Company).

"The City of the Future." Appleton's Journal, 1872.

Jan. 6 to June 29, 1872, Appletons' Journal of Literature, Science, and Art, The City of the Future. Drawn by Harry Penn.

An illustration out of an obscure journal, but obviously a reference to the Equitable Building, which had opened in 1870, standing in just about the depicted relationship to the spire of Trinity Church on Broadway at Wall Street; in much the same way that 1974's The Towering Inferno was a cultural byproduct of the opening of the World Trade Center towers in the years preceding. Not very imaginative in either case---especially here in thinking the bustle was going to stay au courant into the future---but pretty nonetheless, and meaningful. However, a second illustration just came out spooky:

I don't know a specific publishing date beyond 1872, unless "page 156" can be dated in the series. I post this more to draw attention to a singular source online where I learned of this reference as I researched the Equitable Building and its demise. Being a particularly rich vein of American history, I found it odd that I had this field almost to myself, with a startling lack of attention from professional scholars or historians. It is this sort of energetic disposition I've come to see as a red flag.

However, there was one university source apt to come up in Google searches, in a collection of about 100 files, found at We can see it's from Michigan State University, and looking further, note it's from the history department, and it likely belongs to a professor there, Alan Fisher, who teaches "Europe to 1500" and "The Middle East: Period of Ottoman Domination." But in a larger data dump of files we see areas of his overlapping interest.

I don't mean to be unkind, but if this is college level work than I'm glad I never went. The files consist of completely unedited snippets, without links or identifying data, from different media sources, along with some fresh-to-me material that came directly from the Equitable company's archives. One such file said simply:
Appleton's Journal 1872 pg. 6, Equitable archives
RG 4 Secretary's Dept. Historical collection
Art supplement - Appleton's Journal 1872 pg. 6
RG 4 Secretary's Dept. Historical collection
It wasn't hard to find a web site: Public Domain Images from Appletons' Journal of Literature, Science, and Art (Jan. 6 to June 29, 1872) and locate what I assume to be what the file was referring to. Several other files in this collection have been useful, but the research collection overall gives off an odor that raises my suspicions off syntheticism.

Too bad Mr. Fisher, or his students, didn't take the work a level deeper. This story has one of the most glamorous narratives in all of American history, no matter how you approach the material. So why does his half-assed effort just sit there, seemingly abandoned online?

I'll hazard a guess. This looks like historical blackmail to me. Perhaps an effort was undertaken--with immediate contact directly with the corporate officials and sources, to let them know "what was up." It seems clear to my paranoid mindset that the Equitable fire and building collapse afterward became a no-man's land and blaring silence. It was a chance reference to "Hyde's Equitable collapse" on a JREF thread that got me started on this topic, equally addictive as 9/11, and thank God, it was time to move on! And I have the whole thing almost to myself! Muhahahahaha!

Like that woman, what's her name, who got a faculty job at Yale after researching as an undergraduate, and then writing the definitive book, about the anarchist bombing outside of J. P. Morgan's headquarters on September 16, 1920, another historic episode fallen down the memory hole, and a subject which one might think would also come up with some frequency in the decade of cultural processing that has followed September 11th. (Do I need to be blunt here and say that it looks like J. Pierpont Morgan was the central anarchist in both episodes?)

The Sept. 12 issue of The New Yorker's Talk of the Town opened by mentioning the contemporaneous General Slocum disaster, which is only a warm body count when the Equitable collapse is red hot matching narrative detail! But then the magazine went and spoiled everything with an appalling piece by a NYPD detective, Edward Condon, who helped man the "bucket brigades at the smoking pile, where we sought to cart out nearly two million tons of scorched wreckage by the hapless handful as the voids exploded beneath us and the remaining structures shuddered, threatening to topple over on us."

I hope he wore a face mask while he posed.

There was a third illustration in Appleton's Journal, which seems like a continuation of their aerial theme

Read a satire on newly installed elevators published in an 1870's Evening Post, which I copied to a blog that follows this one, for a much more imaginative take on what the future might hold for a present that was no different than ours---in fact, apparently much worse. And if I misread Mr. Fisher, who instead should be praised for providing a nascent trail of breadcrumbs, then I'll apologize, but I'm not holding my breath.

Sanborn Fire map 1895, Equitable Building "Superior Construction"

I mean, it's their business.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The New Way of Getting Up Stairs.

February 10, 1870, The Evening Post, Page 4, Column 3, The New Way of Getting Up Stairs.

What would our ancestors have thought, in the days of George Washington, if they had heard people talk of going up stairs by steam! In those good old times it was the elegant thing for a gentleman to have his drawing room, library, dining hall, chambers and kitchen all on one floor and to dispense entirely with stairs of any kind excepting as a means of getting into the cockloft or garret. But in these advanced times our wealthy citizens think nothing of occupying a suite of elegant and expensive apartments in the seventh story of the Grand Hotel, and are probably not over-particular whether there are stairs or not in the building, as all they have to do to get to their delightful home in the skies is to walk into a small but handsomely furnished room on the ground floor, wink at the young man who ever sits just inside the door, and away they go up to the clouds like one of the happy fellows we read of in the Arabian Nights' Entertainments.

It is not so many years since weary travellers just arrived jaded and dusty from the night train would have well-nigh fainted with chagrin and despair if told at the hotel that they were to have rooms on the eighth story. What a change has taken place! The comfortable, nay, luxurious elevator has reversed all these things. Old ideas are no longer current. A new order of things has come about. Now the top story is the most desirable. The view from the windows, the pure air of heaven, the distance from noise and confusion---these and many other attractions render these elevated regions the choicest of all.

This is no puff for elevator men---neither for hotels. We shall mention the name of none in the business. We are led to moralize and philosophize by the wondrous change that has come over our tastes as regards altitudes. Once New York city was not expected to grow in any other wise than longitudinally towards Harlem River, the waters of the bay and the Hudson and east Rivers having combined to prevent any lateral expansion. But now old residents are taken literally off their feet by the tendency of the city to grow upwards. We are now fully prepared to see next a down ward growth begun into the bowels of the earth.

It is the steam elevator which has done all this. The hotels are beginning to be modern Babels. One on Broadway has lately been adding ten or a dozen stories to its already dizzy height. We confidently look for the day when the city shall be built up so high that vertical city railroads will be run up and down by corrupt corporations.

Some twenty years ago or more, hoisting apparatus began to be introduced something after the fashion of modern elevators, but with none of the improvements. Then merchants and manufacturers began to make use of more convenient machines for the hoisting of merchandise, and steam was soon introduced as a power. As years passed on, and men of genius devised new modes of applying the theory, the hotels ventured to try the experiment of coaxing otherwise unwilling guests into the upper stories. The plan proved a success, and now a hotel without a steam elevator is like a gun without a barrel.

Even younger readers can remember the time when such a thing as going up-stairs in a dry goods store was are indeed. But now, not only are we invited up-stairs in such palaces as those of A. T. Stewart & Co., and Arnold Constable & Co., and H. B. Caflin & Co., but we are hurled up through the air, past story after story of their magnificent buildings, and brought into their fourth and fifth floors in a shorter time than we should have taken to ascend one flight of stairs in the olden time.

Even the down town office renters have snuffed the advantages of the elevating system from afar. Space is valuable about Wall Street and in Broadway up to Liberty Street. It is pretty difficult to find a plot of ground as large as 100 x 50 feet. And yet the Equitable Life Insurance Company has not only found a plot of ground at the corner of Cedar Street and Broadway, of dimensions about 100 x 150 feet, but has built a fire-proof house on it, the domes of which pierce the sky and the upper portion of which is filled with offices for lawyers and architects, and men of all vocations.

These people have made a new application of the aspiring tendency of the times, and the thing has already proved a success. A hundred offices, in a completely fire-proof building, made of nothing but iron and stone, is rather a nice piece of property to hold, without saying more. Add to this the most central location for lawyers, brokers, bankers, insurance companies, and managers of estates, and your property is greatly enhanced in value. This is what the Equitable has. But they have not been satisfied with this. They have heated all the offices with steam, ventilated them after the most scientific modern system, polished them in handsome style, arranged them in suites applicable to all branches of business, and put into the building, not one, but two steam elevators, both of which will be constantly running during the business hours of the day. These elevators are of the most improved and perfect description ever made in this country, and move not only with absolute safety but with great rapidity; so that a person having business with a lawyer on the fifth floor will reach his counsel's office sooner and with less exertion than in ascending stairs to the second floor.

The effect of this bold but brilliant move has already been felt. Leading law firms, capitalists and managers of estates have taken offices on the fifth and sixth floors of the building, and others are after the rooms. The officers of the company now regret that the building was not made twelve instead of seven stories high.

It is hard to realize---but on the 1st of May next this building will be filled with a swarm of lawyers and others six layers deep, and the upper ones will be more easily and speedily accessible than those who now pay high rents for second-story accommodations in second-class houses in Nassau and Wall Streets and Broadway---to say nothing of the advantage of the fire-proof structure.

If you call on a lawyer---instead (as now) of throwing away time, rupturing blood vessels, and losing your wind by clambering up dark staircases---you walk directly from the street into one of the handsome vertical steam cars (which will always be in readiness, one ascending while the other descends,) and, taking a seat on the comfortably cushioned seats, will be almost instantaneously lifted to the sixth floor, where, apart from the world, and undisturbed by the noises of the street, you can consult your advisers in seclusion and repose.

Who will not revel in such a luxury as this? The tendency of this movement will be to collect a great number of the legal profession together in this spacious building, and we doubt not a nucleus will thus be formed for a general settlement of lawyers in that neighborhood.

Now is the opportunity for some enterprising New Englander to buy a lot twenty by fifty and put up a building on it as high as Trinity Church steeple, with a line of steam elevators running every five minutes. Thirty floors, with two rooms on each floor, will be about the available office room of the structure, and the proprietor might rent out the roof either for an astronomical observatory, a shot tower, or a light house, as best accorded with his fancy.

One single manufacturer of steam elevators has erected over one thousand of them. They are now being introduced in almost every branch of business. People are forgetting the old prejudices against the upper stories of the house, and the time is not distant when the question will be "how high up can you let me an office?" instead of "how low down?"

Anything in this crowded, badly-cleaned city, to get Heaven's pure air and to escape the noxious smells of the street. Anything for quiet and repose. Anything for ventilation and light. And the business man will add---anything to get more desirable accommodation at the heart of the city, where its financial arteries meet.

[Actually, the first elevator in a commercial building in New York was in Eder V. Haughwout's fancy-goods emporium at the northeast corner of Broome Street and Broadway, built in 1857, and standing five-stories and 79-feet tall,

Built with cast-iron sections for its two street-fronts, provided by Daniel D. Badger's Architectural Iron Works, with its supposedly unseen north and east sides built of load-bearing masonry walls.

The building's designers installed the world's first successful passenger elevator on March 23, 1857, or thirteen years before insurance men dared. It was a hydraulic lift designed for the building by Elisha Graves Otis. It cost $300 and had a speed of .67 feet per second

Haughwout's was a bit of a hybrid, like the Equitable Building, having cast-iron columns and wood beams.]

October 16, 1869, Real Estate Record and Builders' Guide, Vol. 4, No. 5, Page 3,

"The Equitable Life Insurance Buiilding"

THE EQUITABLE LIFE INSURANCE BUILDING. This large and imposing granite edifice, for some time past in course of erection at the corner of Cedar street and Broadway, is now sufficiently developed to warrant a few words of notice. We allude only to the exterior, for, while the interior is already enough advanced to satisfy the visitor that, with its ponderous walls from 5 feet to 8 feet thick, and arched brick and iron floors from basement to roof, it will be one of the most massive and secure edifices ever reared in this city, it is altogether too unfinished to come at present within the range of artistic criticism. The building covers a space of 88 feet on Broadway, by 130 feet on Cedar street. Some idea of its colossal proportions may be gleaned from the fact that the whole length of the facade on Broadway is occupied by only five, and that on Cedar street by only nine openings—where, in ordinarily constructed buildings, half as many more if not double the number of openings would have been introduced. To produce this effect—a very telling, but really false one—recourse has been had to a sort of architectural legerdemain, not without example among the best standards of classical architecture, by which two distinct stories in height assume the treatment and appearance of only one. The building may be described as being divided vertically into three bold and distinct parts: the first floor comprising one, the second and third floors another, and the fourth and fifth floors another; the whole having the appearance of a gigantic three-story building, with basement and attic. On the first floor on Broadway is the large central door-way, formed of two clustered Doric columns on each side, surmounted by a plain pediment of good proportions, and innocent of all decoration, except a sickly-looking urn at each end. On each side of tho door-way are two very large windows, separated by massive and handsome rusticated piers. Under these windows light and access are had to the basements below. The second vertical compartment, comprising the second and third floors, has five windows, separated by attached double Ionic columns; and the third compartment, comprising the fourth and fifth floors, is treated in the same way, but with Corinthian' or rather Composite Columns. We use the names of these Classical orders as the nearest approximation, although it is hardly fair where such liberties have been taken with them. The windows are divided in their length by wooden transoms, which mark the intersection of the floors; the lower portion of a window lighting one story and the upper portion another. The upper story is crowned by a heavy cornice, very simple in detail, but bold and well-proportioned, and the whole is surmounted by a lofty attic, also of granite, with circular-headed pediment over its central window, and circular-headed dormers emerging from the steep Mansard roof covered with cut slates. The roof is very artistically managed, and from a distance, ascending or descending Broadway, presents a rich and splendid outline. The Cedar street front is treated in the same manner as that of Broadway. There are sundry vagaries of detail—apparently just now an epidemic among our architects—which mar this building, as they do pre-eminently that of the new Young Men's Christian Association, and others we could mention. We mean the poor conceit of cutting columns in two by unmeaning bands, breaking the plain abacus of capitals uncouthly into circles, for the mere sake of introducing useless rosettes and other petty ornaments, &c. —Louis Quatorze abortions that are good enough, perhaps, for a black-walnut bed-post, but are altogether too trivial for enduring granite. These defects are, however, apparent only to the more exacting eye of a rigid architectural student, and are altogether lost in the general effect of the building, which is grand and excellent. Indeed we know of no edifice hitherto erected in New York which so boldly rests its claim to admiration upon the simple dignity of large and true proportions, without the aid of ornamentation, and which, in this respect, is so completely successful. By this prevailing characteristic of overpowering proportions, it dwarfs all surrounding objects— a feature in itself sufficient to impart a certain majesty, for the absence of which no amount of mere decoration can compensate in civic architecture. Precisely as the previously much-lauded Herald Building was, on the erection of the Park Bank, by the force of contrast instantaneously transformed into a dull conglomeration of little marble pigeon-holes, so this granite giant of the Equitable Insurance Company has made the adjoining New York Life Insurance Building, with its infinity of vertical lines and invisible narrow little openings, so utterly insignificant that, from a short distance up or down street, it presents no more artistic appearance than a blank sheet of ruled foolscap paper. But dignity and intrinsic excellence combined, however overshadowed, can never be destroyed by contrast with mere surpassing size. Nothing proves this better than the beautiful American Exchange Bank on the opposite corner of Cedar street, which, although much smaller than the Equitable Insurance Building, instinctively draws the artistic eye to its manifold beauties of form and richness of invention, and would do so, though its overshadowing neighbor were of twice its colossal dimensions.

1877: What Goes Around Again, Comes Around Again.

April 17, 1877, New York Times, THE EQUITABLE INVESTIGATION.

We now have the results of the investigation into the affairs of the Equitable Life Assurance Society, instituted three months ago by the managers, and intrusted by them to an influential committee with ex-Gov. MORGAN at its head. Although not altogether spontaneous, the action of the society was eminently politic

The Equitable shared with equally reputable institutions the business effects of the distrust excited and justified by recent revelations. The system was discredited. Doubt had been cast upon the accuracy of published statements. Policy-holders complained that their opportunities of verifying the representations made by officers were inadequate, and that their rights were ignored by the stockholders, whose interests were trifling in comparison with their own. The complaint was not unreasonable, and in the interest of the companies, not less than of the policy-holders and the public, this journal urged that all proper facilities should be afforded for independent scrutiny as essential to the restoration of confidence. The officers of the Equitable accepted the suggestion. They did not, indeed, invite the policy-holders to nominate investigators, but they invited the co-operation of gentlemen identified in one form or another with the welfare of the institution, and occupying positions which removed them from the suspicion of being unduly influenced in its behalf. The character of the chairman reflected the character of the committee, and gave satisfactory promise of the thoroughness of the work to be undertaken.

The promise thus made has been fulfilled. It is only necessary to glance at the report printed this morning to discover the resolute purpose with which Mr. MORGAN and his associates commenced their task. They had been asked to investigate the affairs of the society, not to exculpate its management, and having accepted the responsibility, they adopted the best possible methods of securing the objects in view. They called various forms of skill to their assistance. They retained a competent actuary, and accountants and valuators without stint. Nothing seems to have escaped them. They caused the calculations to be tested. They verified the books. They subjected the real estate owned by the society and the properties covered by the mortgages it holds to be appraised by trustworthy persons. They took possession of the other securities, and caused them to be valued at present market rates. Upon all these points the inquiry appears to have been complete, and uninfluenced by the officers of the society. It would have been better, we think, had the various reports acquired by the committee from these sources been printed entire, as appendices to its report. As the matter stands, the committee accepts the conclusions presented by those to whom it delegated special duties. The actuarial requirements are fully met by the figures of the balance-sheet. The appraisal of the property covered by mortgages, in this City and State, and also in New Jersey, is more satisfactory than many who are familiar with the depreciation in real property would have anticipated. Some of the properties are, of course, inadequate security for the amounts loaned, though in the judgment of the appraisers the difference is inconsiderable. With a caution characteristic of its members, however, the committee recommends that half a million dollars be taken from the surplus and set aside as a special fund to provide for any probable loss on this class of investments. This sum is about one-eleventh of the undivided surplus as estimated by the managers, or one-ninth of the surplus as computed by the Insurance Department. To meet possible losses on other securities---concerning which, by the way, information must be gleaned from sources unconnected with the report proper---the committee suggests that a further sum of three hundred thousand dollars be added to the special reserve thus created.

The examination carried on by the Insurance Department, irrespective of that directed by the committee, indicates somewhat differently the amount of losses already incurred in respect of property accepted as security for loans, and also in respect of property owned by the society. These amount, according to the department, to $365,475, and are, therefore, amply provided for by the half-million reserve recommended by the committee. It is satisfactory to observe that the Finance Committee of the society promptly responds to the twin propositions of the Investigating Committee by setting apart eight hundred thousand dollars, "to cover any possible loss arising from the value of real estate and other securities."

The labors of the investigators did not end here. They had tested the condition of the company and found it sound. Then came questions of management, and in regard to these the conclusions set forth by the committee will be seen to be in perfect accord with views again and again expressed in these columns as inseparable from life insurance reform. On the subject of expenditures in buildings for the accommodation of the company, here and in Boston, the committee deprecates the course that has been pursued. The structures would have been more judicious "if less elaborate, less expensive, and less ornamental." The fact that parts of the buildings are advantageously rented to others does not blind the committee to what should be the guiding rule in relation to corporate investments of this nature, namely, that "the actual requirements of the corporation itself should, at all times, be the main object in view in such considerations." The mistake into which the Equitable fell is so prevalent that it invites no special condemnation; but the dictum of the committee is the only safe one when the investment of corporate funds is involved. On another point, even more obviously improper, the committee is explicit. It does not look with favor upon the investment of any portion of the society's funds in the capital stock of the Mercantile Trust Company, or any business outside of its legitimate business of life insurance. Nor is there any attempt to break the force of feeling excited by recent testimony respecting the salaries paid to life insurance officials, of the sources of extra compensation. A special inquiry into this branch of the subject left the committee no alternative but to suggest that the compensation paid to the chief officers of the society "has been excessive and objectionable in principle," because in part derived from a percentage of the surplus. While recognizing the necessity of adapting the pay to the actual value of the services rendered, the committee insists that only fixed salaries should be paid, and that they should be reasonable in amount.

These incidental results of the committee's labors are, then, timely and important. They vindicate the sensitiveness evinced by the public upon the subject, and they will assuredly exercise a wholesome influence upon the management of kindred institutions. The committee, it is evident, has no sympathy with the prevailing laxity of opinion in reference to fiduciary responsibility, and none with extravagance in the administration of corporate funds. As for the Equitable Society, its managers should be more than satisfied with the committee's work. Any doubt that may have existed as to the society's condition is removed. And we venture to hope that the society, having had the courage to invite investigation, will use its influence for the furtherance of the reforms which are essential to the complete re-establishment of confidence in the life insurance system.

March 27, 1877, New York Times, SUIT AGAINST THE EQUITABLE LIFE.
In the Special Term of the Common Pleas, judge Robinson yesterday rendered decision in the case of Lyman Elmore and Jenny L. Elmore against the Equitable Life Assurance Society, etc., and Henry B. Hyde and others, respectively President and Directors of the society. The complaint charges that Hyde and the other Directors have obtained control of the stock of the company, and without authority of law have spent $5,000,000 in the erection and decoration of costly buildings in this City and Boston. These buildings, it is alleged, are not necessary for the transaction of the company's business, as the greater part of them are leased to other corporations. The plaintiffs claim that by this conduct, and by their positions, the Directors have drawn large sums over and above their salaries, and have shared profits derived, or said to have been derived by the contractors for the buildings. The plaintiffs desire to have an accounting of the sums alleged to have been overdrawn, and ask for the appointment of a Receiver. The case came up on a motion for the examination before trial of Henry B. Hyde. The answer of the defendants admits the expenditures but denies that they were unlawful or unnecessary or unprofitable to the company, and denies each and every one of the other allegations. This case was recently argued in the Common Pleas Court on a motion for the order to examine Henry B. Hyde before trial. The court holds it must be shown to be not a mere fishing investigation. The plaintiffs say the knowledge which they seek is peculiarly within the possession of the defendants, but the plaintiffs failed to disclose the facts in regard to which they desire to examine Hyde. On account of the failure to make such disclosure, Judge Robinson, without passing on the plaintiffs right to sue the Directors, denied the motion for the examination.

April 6, 1877, New York Times, LIFE INSURANCE AFFAIRS.;
ALBANY, April 5. The Insurance Committee resumed its investigation at 9:30 this morning. Previous to the resumption of the testimony the committee went into executive session, and it is understood that Mr. Floyd Jones made a motion to discontinue the investigation and make a report. What the result of the motion was is unknown
After the recess Theodore Weston testified that he was the architect of the Equitable Building; the work was commenced in May 1874, and was completed in July, 1876; the leases commenced in May, 1875; the original office of the Equitable was separated from the main building, and its completion was delayed; there is no restaurant in the building; Delmonico's adjoins it; the actual expense of putting up the main building was about $1,500,000, including the land; the additional building cost about $1,000,000; witness received a salary of $15,000 per year; the preliminary plans were drawn by Mr. Kendall; he had not completed the plans before the building was commenced; the internal arrangements were left entirely to the preliminary drawing; there was no percentage paid upon any of the material to my knowledge; blank ; furnished a statement of expenditures to the Building Committee of the Equitable at almost every meeting; Mr. Lambert was Chairman of this committee; they had meetings three times a week; the plans were submitted to them, and the contracts were made by witness; upon the larger contracts, bids were advertised for; all payments were made by approval of the committee; Silman & Cheney were the contractors for the stone; they bid $98,000, I think; it was the lowest bid of 17; it ran a little over $3 per cubic foot upon the granite actually furnished; the granite was measured by myself; no commission nor any consideration was paid on the contract; the contractor for the masonry work who cut the stone was T.T. Smith; his work was let in the same way at $18 per 1,000 foot of brick, and $9, or about that, for setting the granite; that included pay for everything; he was paid nothing more; no one else received any gratuity on account of the contract; he did the fire-proof wall in the interior and the plastering; for the first he received 40 or 50 cents, and for the last 42 cents, per square yard; Morton and Chesley did the carpenter work at about $65,000; no gratuity or commission was allowed anyone on any work; a number of contracts were made for the elevators, for the boilers, for the sub-cellar, for taking down the old building, and for other purposes; the entire work cost about $1,000,000, and upon it no bonus or commission was paid to any one; neither to officers, Directors, not any one else; the granite contractors furnished about $1,500 worth of work for Mr. Hyde's house on Long Island; Mr. Calvert Vaux was the architect of the house.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


April 6, 1906, Brooklyn Daily Standard Union,
John WILMER MARTINE, the Fifth avenue haberdasher's clerk, was arraigned to-day before the Justices of the Court of Special Sessions, Manhattan, for sentence under his plea of guilty to stealing a polo shirt valued at $5 from his employer, McLAUGHLIN, the haberdasher.

A probation officer reported to the court that he had discovered that MARTINE's real name is John RAUSCHENBACH and that he has a sister, Mrs. Bertha BROWN, living at 510 Otterbein street, Baltimore, and another sister, Mrs. Ida NODMAN, living at Cherry Hill, Md. The probation officer declared that he understood ex-Senator MASON, of Illinois, had been informed that MARTINE was engaged to the Senator's daughter, Ruth, for some time, but that the engagement had been broken.

At one time, it is said, he was secretary for James H. HYDE, former vice-president of the Equitable Life Assurance Society. He finally joined HARRIGAN'S circus, eventually developing his act known as the "human snake." After hearing this report the justices suspended sentence and he was paroled in the custody of the probation officer until May 25.

March 29, 1906, The San Francisco Call, Alleged Thief a Social Lion,
One-Time Suitor for the Hand of a Daughter of Former Senator Mason
Interest in the unique career of John Wilmer Martine, ex-actor, former circus contortionist, man about town and friend and entertainer of smart society, increased today when it developed that he had been a suitor for the hand of Miss Ruth Mason, daughter of former United States Senator W. E. Mason of Illinois, and had at one time known Miss Ruth Hanna, daughter of the late Senator Mark Hanna.
When Martine was arraigned in the West Side court today on the charge of grand larceny preferred by a Fifth avenue haberdasher, for whom he been had salesman, a number of his fashionable friends drove up to the building in automobiles and were present in the court-room during his appearance there......
Former Senator Mason was angry when shown the text of some of his daughter's letters, written to Martine.
"I shall go to New York," he said "and shoot the cur that prints the letters of my daughter. Martine met my daughter in Washington several years ago. It is true that they were sweethearts, but later my daughter learned several facts in regard to Martine's life which caused her to renounce him."
The love letters of Miss Ruth Mason to Martine were written shorty after his circus experience as the vaunted "Human Corkscrew" and "Anatomical Marvel". They are typical letters of a school girl.

Reports of cases heard and determined in the Appellate division ..., Volume 160
By New York (State). Supreme Court Vol. CLX, 1914
The People of the State of New York, Respondent, v. John Wilmer (or Martine), Appellant.
Judgment of conviction of the County Court of Westchester county affirmed. No opinion. Burr, Thomas, Carr and Rich, JJ., concurred; Jenks, P. J., dissented upon the ground that the evidence was not sufficient to justify a conviction.

April 6, 1906, New York Times,
MARTINE PAROLED.; Friends Intercede for Society Entertainer Who Stole.
On the recommendation of the attorney for the complaining witness, the Justices of Special Sessions paroled yesterday John Wilmer Martine, who had pleaded guilty to stealing a polo shirt from his employers, F.A. McLaughlin Co. of 304 Fifth Avenue. The case attracted attention because Martine has been well known in social circles as a clever contortionist, his ability procuring for him the nickname of "the human snake."

1906, The Naples [NY] News, MAN LEADS DOUBLE LIFE.
New Yorker Who Posed as a Wealthy Society Man Is Held for Larceny.
New York .—Through the arrest of John Wilmer Martine, head salesman in a Fifth avenue haberdashery, one of the most remarkable dual personalities in the police records of this city has come to light. Martine worked each week from eight a.m. to six p.m. for $2 a week. After business hours he was a welcome guest to the homes of some of the best known families in the city. He numbered among his friends several well-known society women.

Skillful and continuous larceny, it is alleged, enabled him to live at the rate of $15,000 a year for two years or more, it is charged, he has stolen systematically and without corning under suspicion. A trip to Europe proved his undoing,

Martine added to his income by work as "parlor entertainer." He got $25 a night for this, and so pleasing was his personality that her seldom failed to convert his patrons into admiring friends. He has appeared in the houses of John D. Rockefeller and Grant B. Schley. He stage managed the entertainments, at the We st side Y. M. C. A., where he was highly esteemed. Martine, whose right nameis said to be Martin, came to this city from Baltimore ten years ago. He is 28 years old, and is known as one of the "smartest dressers" in town.

In the West Side police court Martine was brought to answer a charge of grand larceny preferred by his employer, W. A. Laughlin. Edward H. Hobbs, counsel for the haberdasher, said the stealings of Mr. Martine in the five years he has worked for the concern are not known, but he was charged with the theft of $500.

May 3, 1899, New York Times, Obit, DEATH OF HENRY B. HYDE;

Google document.

May 3, 1899, New York Times, Obit, DEATH OF HENRY B. HYDE;

Equitable Life's President Succumbs to Heart Disease.


Career of the Man Who Organized the Assurance Society and Brought It to Its Present Position.

Henry Baldwin Hyde, President of the Equitable Life Assurance Society, and one of the best-known life insurance authorities in the United States, died yesterday afternoon of heart disease, at his residence, 9 East Fortieth Street. Mr. Hyde had been confined to his house for a year, but lately his physicians had considered him on the road to recovery. The malady from which he suffered took a turn for the worse three days ago, however, and from that time it was known that his death was but a matter of hours. Several of his close business associates sat by his bedside to the last. At the deathbed were also the members of his family, Mrs. Hyde, Mrs. Sidney Dillon Ripley, the only daughter, and James H. Hyde, the only son. Arrangements for the funeral services and internment have not yet been made.

Henry B. Hyde was born in Catskill, N.Y., Feb. 15, 1834. He was descended of an old Colonial family established in Newtown, Mass. , in 1633 by William Hyde of England. He came to New York in the year 1850, and for the next two years was employed by Messrs. Merritt, Ely & Co., merchants of this city. In January, 1852, he obtained a clerkship in the office of the Mutual Life Insurance Company of New York, and was subsequently made cashier of that company.

His attention was called to life assurance early in life. In addition to his knowledge of the business obtained from his experience in the office of the Mutual Company, he acquired a great deal of useful and interesting information on the subject from his father, Henry H. Hyde of Boston, who was one of the most conspicuous and successful life assurance men of his day. Mr. Hyde, the father, lived for many years in Boston, representing the Mutual Life Insurance Company as its General Manager for New England.

In March, 1859, Mr. Hyde announced to Frederick S. Winston, President of the Mutual Company, that he had come to the conclusion that there was room in the life assurance business for a new company, organized along new lines, and that, after careful consideration, he had decided to organize such a company. He thereupon tendered his resignation, which was accepted by Mr. Winston, to take effect forthwith. Two days later he delivered up his keys, the cash and securities under his charge having been examined by the Actuaries of the company and found correct.

The Equitable Life Assurance Society of the United States was incorporated on the 26th of July of the same year, but a great deal of preliminary work was done before its organization. After his retirement from the office of the Mutual Company Mr. Hyde rented a rear room on the second floor of 98 Broadway, at an annual rental of $900, and placed a sign bearing the title of the company on the front of the building.

Mr. Hyde associated with himself a number of prominent men, who with him became the incorporators and the original Board of Directors of the society.

It was often stated by Mr. Hyde that at this period he constantly consulted his father, and that it was to a large extent owing to his advice, based on his great experience, that no mistakes were made in the organization and early management of the society.


William G. Lambert, a New York merchant, was one of the original Directors, as was also his son, Dr. Edward W. Lambert, who was made the society's physician, and who has continued ever since to be its senior Medical Director. Dr. Willard Parker was appointed Consulting Physician. Henry Day, another of the original Directors, was made Counsel. George W. Phillips of Salem, Mass., a graduate of Harvard, a man of high mathematical attainments, was offered the position of Actuary, which he accepted, and which office he filled until his death, on Sept. 27, 1898.

Although Mr. Hyde had conceived the project of organizing the society and was the chief mover of the enterprise, he decided that he would accept the position of Vice President, and that the office of President should be filled by the appointment of an older man---one whose name and reputation would insure the fullest public confidence in the young enterprise. The Hon. William C. Alexander of New Jersey, son of the Rev. Dr. Archibald Alexander of Princeton, a man of mature years ands long experience at the bar and in the Senate of New Jersey, accepted the position.

The first meeting of the incorporators of the society was held at the office of the Resolute Fire Insurance Company, 19 Nassau Street, (the room at 98 Broadway being too small,) on the afternoon of April 26, 1859. Twenty-two of the original Board of Directors were in attendance. Subsequent meetings were held at 19 Nassau Street until more roomy quarters were secured for the office of the society. It was decided that the business of the society should be conducted on the mutual plan for the exclusive benefit and advantage of its policy holders.

In the beginning the office force consisted of the President, Vice President, Actuary, Secretary, physician, and an office boy. An outside copyist was employed, but for a time there was no clerical force. The books were kept by the Actuary, who also attended to the general correspondence. The management of the business and the appointment of agents devolved upon Mr. Hyde.


One of Mr. Hyde's most noticeable characteristics has been his antipathy to biographical notices. It is probable that there is not another man in the United States of equal prominence about whose life and personal history as little has appeared in print. Consequently the records of his early life are meager and uninteresting. His history is really the history of the Equitable Society, and whenever he was asked for information about himself for publication he turned the conversation to the achievements of the society and to its future prospects. He liked to see the name of the company in large type, but he always insisted that his own name should be printed in small type of precisely the same size as that of every one of his junior associates.

He was twenty-five years of age when the society was organized. He was described at that time as "tall in stature and strong of limb. Handsome in feature and singularly bright in expression. His mouth was peculiarly expressive, but his eyes, which were dark, and gleamed from beneath heavy eyebrows, arrested instant attention. They were keen, alert, and it is scarcely a figure of speech to say that they pierced like a sword. The young man impressed his individuality upon the world around him, and the charm to persuade men, which is the precursor of the power to direct them, already asserted itself in his daily walk and conversation.

He did not marry until five years later, and all his waking hours were devoted to the young enterprise. The society was launched with business amounting to nearly half a million dollars. Even before the completion of its organization, applications for $433,000 of assurance were secured from friends of the new enterprise, chiefly through the personal efforts of Mr. Hyde.

The utmost care was exercised in the selection of risks, and this, as well as every other department of the business, received Mr. Hyde's constant scrutiny. A long interval elapsed before the society was called upon to pay its first death claim. The strictest economy was exercised. No obligation was incurred, and no bill was paid except with Mr. Hyde's approval.

No sooner had the society been fairly launched than the civil war broke out, and a steady hand was needed at the helm during those stormy times. During the period of inflation following the war, new dangers presented themselves, Many life companies were organized, whose competition was active and whose methods were aggressive, but after a brief period of prosperity most of them went by the board in consequence of the inexperience of the officials, the lavish scale on which they were inaugurated, and the loose and extravagant manner in which their affairs were conducted.


The Equitable Society opened its doors to the public on July 28. On that day fourteen policies were written, amounting in the aggregate to $100,500. The largest risk assumed on a single life at the start was for $10,000, but for a time one half of every risk for that amount was reassured in some older company. On the 1st of December the society moved into commodious offices on the first floor of a new building which had just been erected at 92 Broadway.

At the close of the year 1859 the society made its first report to the Insurance Department of the State of New York. At that time the assurance in force amounted to $1,144,000. On the 31st of December, 1898, it amounted to $987,000,000. Then the income was less than $24,000, now it amounts to over $50,000,000. Then not a single death claim had been presented. Since then the total amount paid to policy holders in death claims, matured endowments, dividends, surrender values, etc., exceeds $299,000,000.

The surplus at that time amounted to $96,154, and at that time there were twenty-four other older companies reporting to the New York and Massachusetts departments. In 1875 there were only five companies having a larger surplus than the Equitable; in 1876 there were but three; in 1877 but two; in 1878 but one; and in 1880 the society attained the first position, which it has held uninterruptedly ever since.

On March 29, 1864, Mr. Hyde married Annie Fitch, daughter of Simeon Fitch. His son, James H. Hyde, born Aug. 20, 1871, was graduated from Harvard in the class of 1898, and on the 2nd of November elected by the Board of Directors to the office of second Vice President of the Society.

In December, 1861, the society began to accept risks for $10,000 without re-assuring any part of that amount in other companies. In December, 1866, it extended the limit to $25,000; in December 1868, to $50,000; and in December 1883, to $100,000, and at the present time risks are assumed on selected lives for the amount of $200,000.


From time to time, as the volume of the society's business extended, the offices were necessarily enlarged, and on Dec. 16, 1865, a special meeting of the Board of Directors was called to consider the question of erecting a building. That Mr. Hyde should have been willing to advise this step at a time when the assets amounted to only $1,500,000 and the income to only $971,000 illustrates the confidence with which he looked forward to the future growth and prosperity of the society.

The purchase of land upon which the original Equitable Building was erected, on the southwest corner of Broadway and Cedar Street, was consummated in the Autumn of 1867. The building was completed on the 1st of May, 1870. At that time there was not a single office building in New York into which passenger elevators had been introduced. For some time freight elevators had been utilized in warehouses and passenger elevators in hotels, but Mr. Hyde insisted upon their introduction into the Equitable Building, against the advice of the Society's Building Committee.

This innovation, which originated with Mr. Hyde, not only gave a unique prominence and efficiency to the Equitable Building, but revolutionized the construction of office buildings throughout the city. From time to time since then the building of the society has been enlarged, until now it practically occupies the entire block bounded by Broadway, Cedar Street, Nassau Street, and Pine Street.

To the superficial observer, Mr Hyde's energy, enterprise, diligence, capacity for hard and uninterrupted work, have been chiefly conspicuous, but those who have looked beneath the surface have seen that he was no less remarkable for care, thoughtful deliberation, vigilance, and an undeviated adherence to sound business and exact scientific principles.

The Equitable Society has been noted for the many reforms in the practice of life assurance which it has originated and put in practice. Here again Mr. Hyde's character is revealed. Many of the society's innovations were at first regarded by others in the business as rash and experimental, but experience has proved that they were all carefully considered in advance, and their merit having been subsequently demonstrated, the other companies have followed where Mr. Hyde has led.


In the very beginning he saw that notable success could not be expected for any life assurance company unless the interests of the agents, who are the producers, should be jealously protected. Many innovations in this direction were made by Mr. Hyde, and early in its history the Equitable began to be called "the agent's company." During its earlier years many of the society's chief competitors were "note companies," transacting their business to a large extent on the credit system. Mr. Hyde, in spite of the keen competition of these older companies, refused to accept premium notes, and insisted from the beginning that the business of the society should be conducted throughout on a cash basis.

Early in the history of the society he observed that the practice of contesting the payment of claims was an increasing evil in the business, and he promptly set to work to simplify and liberalize the policy contract. Many innovations along these lines were introduced from time to time, until a system was perfected under which it became practicable to pay the policies of the society with a promptness, regularity, and certainty closely corresponding with that employed by a bank in the payment of its checks and drafts.

One of his most notable strokes of policy occurred some years ago. Col. Walton B. Dwight, well known in the interior of the State, died, leaving policies of insurance on his life in various companies, aggregating $256,000.

Most of the companies, believing that they had good reasons, contested the payment of these policies, President Hyde caused an independent investigation to be made of the claim on the Equitable, and becoming satisfied that it was entirely legitimate, ordered the payment of the $40,000 policy to Col. Dwight's estate. The case had attracted wide attention, and the news of the prompt payment by the Equitable Society was naturally published and talked of far and wide to the substantial advantage of the company's business.


Blessed with a rugged constitution and great physical strength, and such endurance as few men can boast, Mr. Hyde has worked with an energy few men have ever approached. During the early years of the society he thought nothing of taking a tour of the United States, working all day long, and every day, and traveling every night. Not only was he able to compress more work into a single day than any other man of ordinary energy, but he had the faculty of getting more work out of other people than any man of his time.

His mind worked with great rapidity. He transacted his business with marvelous dispatch, and by a sort of intuition was able to get at the root of a complicated matter without the necessity for a laborious study of the details. On the other hand, although quick to act and bold in action, it had always been his habit to concentrate his thoughts for long periods on single problems before he began to deal with them.

Having once made up his mind, he was fearless, confident, and aggressive. Nothing was too small or unimportant for his most undivided attention if it related in any way to any transaction of moment. He had an exceedingly terse and forcible literary style, and always insisted that not only the most important publications of the society, but every advertisement and every letter should be accurate, carefully expressed, and dignified in tone.

Those who have only seen him during business hours, and outside of business hours at times when he felt that the responsibility of the management of the society rested on his shoulders, cannot know the charm and attractiveness of the man. To know this phase of his character it was necessary to travel with him on those rare occasions when, having temporarily resigned the reins of government to his associates, he cut himself loose from all business associations and went far afield for rest and recreation.

Mr. Hyde was a man of genius, but he professed to have great contempt for the word, protesting that genius was simply the capacity for hard work. The secret of his success was that he had both the genius and the capacity for hard work. To attain a desired result he was always ready to expend the greatest amount of energy that could be brought to bear to insure success. He boasted that he made it a rule to apply one hundred pounds of power to make assurance doubly sure when possibly ten pounds might have sufficed to do the work.


On Aug. 23, 1874, William C. Alexander, the first President of the society, died, and at a special meeting of the Board of Directors held on Sept. 2, 1874, Mr. Hyde was elected President and James W. Alexander, who had entered the service of the society as Secretary in 1866, was elected First Vice President. Having grown up with the society, Mr. Hyde remained in touch with all the departments of the business. A large proportion of the assurance secured in the beginning was obtained through his personal solicitation, and for many years thereafter, when some agent found it difficult to secure a large application, Mr. Hyde made it a practice to go with him and close the transaction.

For many years he appointed most of the agents who solicited for the society. He scrutinized written reports from every department of the office from day to day. It was his constant practice to thoroughly investigate from time to time one or another department of the business, going into all its details, having presented to him for judgment its current transactions, reviewing its methods, watching the work done by its clerks, and scrutinizing minutely the management of the official in charge of it.

Never, except for short intervals or under extraordinary circumstances, when the responsibility was delegated to others, did he fail to scrutinize every expenditure and personally check every bill submitted for payment. From day to day he scrutinized the amount of assurance written, the amount of assurance in force as compared with the business of the previous year, the amount of business terminated, the number and amount of the death claims reported, the mortality among the policy holders as compared with previous years and as compared with the expectation tables. For many years the most important canvassing documents of the society were written by him, and they were always prepared under his supervision.


He took great delight in visiting the agencies of the society and instructing and encouraging the workers in the field. He originated the system of sending circular letters periodically to agents, informing them of the position attained by the society and stimulating them to renewed efforts. Most of these circulars were written by his own hand and were frequently the outcome of long thought and arduous labor.

He made a constant study of tables and percentages and comparisons illustrating the growth of the business and the experience of the society and its progress as compared with its competitors throughout the world. The finances of the society, the investment of its funds, the development and protection of its property, were constantly watched by him with the keenest solicitude.

Mr. Hyde conceived the idea of the Lawyers' Club, with its sumptuous quarters and manifold advantages in the Equitable Building. He was a member of the Lawyers' Club, and also of the Union, the Union League, the Riding, Westminster Kennel, South Side Sportmens', Jekyl Island, and Press Clubs. He also belonged to the American Geographical Society, and was a liberal patron of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Mr. Hyde never took any conspicuous part in public affairs, but he usually had very decided opinions on matters of importance. He was, as a rule, conservative in his ideas, and when the question of underground rapid transit came up he took a stand of emphatic opposition to it.

"Nothing is more significant of Mr. Hyde's character, which has always combined aggressiveness with conservatism," said a friend, "than the growth of the Equitable Society. No other life assurance company, indeed no other financial, has accomplished such results within so short a period, but the substantial character of its growth and its steady increase in strength has been, if anything, more significant than the rapidity of its advancement."


James W. Alexander, a Graduate of Princeton, Has Repeatedly Served as Acting President.

In less than three months the Equitable Life Assurance Society will be forty years of age. Notwithstanding its phenomenal growth, its advancement has been uniform and gradual. As the business has been extended, the system and machinery for conducting it have been developed, improved, and perfected. Its affairs are in charge of a board of fifty-two Directors and a corps of experienced officers. The business is divided into departments with a Superintendent at the head of each, who is held responsible for the efficient working of his department and the clerks under him.

During Mr. Hyde's illness and absence from the office, covering a period of more than a year, James W. Alexander, the Vice President, has had full charge, and the responsibility in conducting the affairs of the society. Repeatedly in the past he has served as Acting President of the society. In 1878, in consequence of ill-health, Mr. Hyde took a trip around the world, and was absent for nearly a year. During that absence the supreme control was placed in the Vice President's hands.

James W. Alexander is a graduate of Princeton University, and is one of the Trustees of that institution. After leaving college he studied law and was admitted to the bar in New York, becoming a partner in the firm of Cumming, Alexander & Green. In 1866 he abandoned the active practice of law to become Secretary of the Equitable Society. He was made Second Vice President in 1871, and has served continuously as First Vice President since 1874.

The Chief Medical Director of the Equitable, Dr. Edward W. Lambert, has been connected with the society from its organization, in 1859. George W. Phillips, the first Actuary, died in 1896, and Mr. J.G. Van Cise, who had been Assistant Actuary since 1873, was appointed to his place, R.G. Hann receiving the appointment of Assistant Actuary.

In 1898, James H. Hyde, son of President Hyde, a graduate of Harvard University, trained by his father in the theory and practice of life assurance, was made Second Vice President of the society.

The Third Vice President, Gage E. Tarbell, and Fourth Vice President, George T. Wilson, both men of long experience in the business, have full charge of the agencies of the society at home and abroad.

The Board of Directors is divided into committees which supervise the various departments of the society. The Finance and the Executive Committees have full charge of the investment of its funds and all matters relating to finance.


Has Paid $299,083,188.97 to Policy Holders, and Now Holds $258,369,298.54 of Assets.

Some interesting facts and figures are given in a recent statement of the growth and present condition of the Equitable Life Assurance Society. During a period of thirty-nine and one-half years the society has paid $299,083,188.97 to its policy holders, and now holds $258,369,298.54 of assets, making the total amount paid and accumulated $557,452,487.51. This total is $267,600,000 more than any other insurance company has paid and accumulated within a corresponding period. Last year the society paid in dividends to its policy holders $3,059,744.86.

From the end of 1859 to the end of 1898 the society's assets increased from $117,102 to $258,369,299, and the surplus from $93,154 to $57,310,489. The assets at the end of 1869 were $10,510,824; at the end of 1879, $37,366,842, and at the end of 1889, $107,150,309. The surplus at the end of each of these three periods was $319,755, $5,550,395, and $22,821,074.

Out of 3,531 death claims received last year 2,541 were paid on the day proofs of death were received, 403 were paid within three days after receipt of proofs, and 541 were paid within sixty days, making nearly 99 per cent. of the whole paid within sixty days. The claims paid on the day proofs of death were received amounted to $9,447,517.55; the claims paid within three days to $1,550,320.94, and those paid within sixty days to $1,797,850.31. During 1898 the society declined over $30,000,000 of assurance applied for.

A condensed statement for the year 1898 shows the assets to be as follows:

Bonds and mortgages...$34,724,277.55

Real estate, including the Equitable Building and purchases under foreclosure of mortgages...$26,063,423.53

United States stocks, State and city stocks, and other investments as per market quotations Dec. 31, 1898, (market value over cost, $11,478,910.73)...$157,207,562.55

Loans secured by bonds and stocks...$11,431,535.55

Real estate outside the State of New York, including purchases under foreclosure and office buildings...$14,346,910.11

Cash in banks at interest...$9,036,737.55

Balances due from agents...$252,786.50

Interest and rents due ($179,646.83) and accrued ($369,524.37)...$549,171.20

Premiums due and in process of collection....$2,549,079.00

Deferred premiums....$2,187,815.00

Total assets...$258,369,298.54

The liabilities were:

Assurance fund (or reserve) on all existing policies...$198,898,259.60

All other liabilities...$2,160,550.27

Total liabilities...$201,058,809.27

The society's income from premium receipts was $39,371,421.59, and in cash received for interest and from other sources, $10,877,865.19, making a total of $50,249,286.78.

The disbursements were: Death claims, $12,982,474.76; matured and discontinued endowments, $1,374,732.37; annuities, $567,905.38; surrender values, $2,885,442.05; matured tontine values, $3,150,224; dividends paid to policy holders, $3,059,744.86; commissions, advertising, postage, and exchange, $4,558,406.67; all other payments---taxes, salaries, medical examinations, etc., $4,175,022.14, making the total disbursements $32,753,952.23.

The assurance was as follows---installment policies being stated at their commuted values. Outstanding assurance, $987,157,134; assurance applied for in 1898, $198,362,617; examined and declined, $30,318,878; new insurance issued, $168,043,739.


Mr. McCall, Mr. McCurdy, and Mr. Hartley Talk of H.B. Hyde.

John A. McCall, President of the New York Life Insurance Company, when seen last night, had just received a telegram announcing the death of Mr. Hyde, and unhesitatingly added his tribute to the character and worth of the dead man. "Henry B. Hyde," he said, "was without doubt the most eminent insurance man in this or any country, and his death will be deeply felt by insurance men throughout the United States.

"As for myself, I owe much of whatever success I have achieved in life to his precepts and example. I was associated with him in the Equitable for a long time, and have known him intimately for twenty-five years. He has been one of the best friends I ever had. He helped me in every way possible, and I learned to recognize him almost as one of my own flesh and blood.

"As for his business attainments, he stood unchallenged as one of the greatest life insurance men in the business. He was a man of remarkable force and untiring energy, and showed himself peculiarly adapted to his chosen walk of life. And on those lines he was considered as peerless, not only in this country, but throughout Europe as well.

"His place, so far as I know, cannot possibly be filled at present. I cannot say more at this time, but the New York Life Insurance Company will take the earliest occasion to give public expression to the esteem in which we all held Henry B. Hyde.

Marcellus Hartley, one of the Directors of the Equitable Society and a lifelong friend and business associate of Mr. Hyde, did not know of Mr. Hyde's death until informed of the fact last night by a reporter for THE NEW YORK TIMES. "I was with him last night," said Mr. Hartley, "and did not believe that the end would come so soon. I have been associated with Henry Hyde for the past thirty-five years, and have been on nearly every one of his business committees.

"So many anecdotes connected with his remarkable business career crowd themselves into my memory now That I cannot undertake to give full expression to my reminiscences of the man. I think, however, that I give the main secret of the man's success in life when I say that whatever he took hold of he put unbounded energy into it and kept at it until he made it a success. Every business venture of his life was approached by him in this way, and he simply refused to be defeated. His loss will be keenly felt in life insurance circles, not only in this country, but throughout the world."

Richard A. McCurdy, President of the Mutual Life Insurance Company, said: "I am deeply grieved over Mr. Hyde's death. He was undoubtedly the most conspicuous figure in the business or profession of life insurance in this country during the last twenty years. I had the greatest respect and admiration, and a warm friendship for him for many years.

"While his health was not unexpected for some time past, it comes as a shock and takes away a man of note, a man who has left an impression upon the life insurance business, more so than that made by any other man ever connected with it."

5191 words.