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Reflections

Reflecting today on the beginnings of our unique American experience, I thought it would be fun to share some history about seven enduring businesses from the early years of our Republic.



Bourbon Whiskey. During the Revolution, whiskey was made from corn in small local distilleries. Jacob Beam sold his first barrel in the bluegrass hills of Kentucky in 1795. The company was re-named for his great-grandson Col. James Beam after Prohibition. Today, Jim Beam is part of Fortune Brands.


Banking. The oldest surviving American bank was founded by Alexander Hamilton as Bank of New York in 1784. It is now BNY Mellon. Aaron Burr founded a competitor bank — Bank of Manhattan — now JPMorgan Chase. Hamilton and Burr were competitors in many arenas!

Tobacco. Pierre Lorillard began selling his tobacco products in 1760. While tobacco has been responsible for the illness and death of many, our country owes Lorillard gratitude for our independence because tobacco products helped finance the Revolutionary War. Lorillard is now part of Reynolds American.


Law. The oldest American law firm was founded by William Rawle in Philadelphia in 1783. Rawle later declined George Washington’s offer to serve as the first U.S. Attorney General. The law firm, now named Rawle & Henderson, primarily handles insurance litigation.


Chocolate. In 1765, John Baker began importing cocoa beans and producing chocolate near Boston. When the British hiked taxes on tea, many patriots switched to drinking hot chocolate made from Baker’s hard chocolate. Baker’s Chocolate is now part of Kraft Foods.


Gunpowder. We would not have won without it! During the Revolutionary War, gunpowder was imported from France. Eleuthère Irénée (I.E.) du Pont fled to America to escape the French Revolution in 1792, later founding a gunpowder company in Boston. DuPont remains a pioneer in the fields of agriculture, nutrition and biotechnology.


Insurance. The first American stock insurance company was founded in Philadelphia in 1792. Insurance Company of North America (INA) has been an insurance innovator throughout its history, including fire insurance, homeowner’s insurance and cyber insurance. INA is now part of Chubb.


ClaimEdge celebrates these pioneers of our modern economy — including insurance — where we are working to help the industry with the claims that end up in lawsuits.