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  • Writer's pictureAli Assareh

Today in Legal History: American corporations & US's first life insurance company (Jan 11, 1759)

Today, on Jan 11, 1759, America's first life insurance company was formed in Philadelphia.

"The Corporation for Relief of Poor and Distressed Widows and Children of Presbyterian Ministers" was the name of this company.

Unlike many other parts of the world, in the U.S., it was, and still is, fairly easy to form a company. You can form a company today by walking into your Secretary of States' office (physically or virtually), and filing a 1-page document stating your name, your company's name, and a few other items. Voila! You're a Founder & CEO!

That basic document is called a "Charter", colloquially, and "Articles of Incorporation," formally.

I wasn't able to find this company's original charter; but I found minutes of their annual meetings from 1761 to 1773 (see pic of first page below).

This company's original mission was to fund widows and children of missionaries, though interestingly, it loaned money to American Revolutionaries in 1777 (the ministers favored independence from England).

The company later became Covenant Life Insurance Company and was acquired by Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company in 2002!

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