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History Lesson

In which my penchant for archival research takes a humorous turn...
In years past, The Standard ran a feature highlighting bits of insurance news from the ages – 100 Years Ago in The Standard, 50 Years Ago in The Standard, etc. Given my fervent predilection for trolling about in the fusty archives of this publication, I couldn't resist resurrecting the feature, if only for a week.

Traveling back 100 years, the June 29, 1907, issue of The Standard aired differences of opinion over an 1897 British notion of "making the employer liable in all cases for compensation to workmen injured." According to then-Editor Chauncey Monroe Ransom, President Theodore Roosevelt felt the United States should follow suit. However, there remained significant debate here and across the pond over whether "careless" employees should see such benefits.

Also in the June 29, 1907, issue, the Massachusetts Association of Local Fire Insurance Agents opted to postpone its midsummer meeting until a later date. Calling it a "midsummer" meeting brought to mind delightful images of insurance agents cavorting about a forest, some wearing wings, impishly playing pranks on one another. I declined to read any further finding my initial Shakespearean impression too ticklish to tamper with.

Jumping ahead 50 years to the June 14, 21, and 28, 1957, issues – the regional insurance industry was all aflutter regarding the insuring and launch of Mayflower II, the replica of the Pilgrims' conveyance to their new land. A representative of the new ship's insurer confidently suggested the original Mayflower did not hold any type of cargo insurance and that the intervening 337 years of innovation had remedied the situation for posterity.

And, in the month of June 1957, The Standard received several reader-submitted poems relating to the business of insurance. It's valid to point out that in seven years, I have yet to receive any poetry, insurance or otherwise.

Just 25 years ago in The Standard's June 25, 1982, issue, insurance reform in several states was front-page news, with Connecticut regulators worrying about the effect of a competitive-rating law going into effect for 1983 and Massachusetts Commissioner of Insurance Michael Sabbagh advising the industry to stop squabbling amongst itself and work together to fix the auto insurance system. The Standard's editor at the time declared "the time ripe for auto insurance reform" and advised an eye toward New Jersey's efforts.

Leaping back to 2007, we find that policymakers continue to debate over legal and compensatory remedies. Agents still gather at all times of years, proving that camaderie isn't excluded from any policy of healthy competition. The insurance industry remains the premier source of financial peace of mind, allowing the region and the nation to tap into our history and culture. And as for 1982's selections, Connecticut seems to be doing just fine. And as for Massachusetts, the state continues to make – and repeat – history.

Comments To This Article:
  • History Lesson (John Leslie, 07/23/2007 )
    Dear ELA,

    I’m loving this “retro” piece. Most particularly your Puckish observations on winged agents in a bosky setting. Perhaps— since the Bard is usually bang-on with relationship analysis, “What fools these mortals be!” would be an apt observation for ANY human gathering, Especially apt every time Solons rub elbows together, yes?

    Thanks, Publius

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