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Nathaniel Bowditch and the Power of Numbers"How a Nineteenth-Century Man of Business, Science, and the Sea Changed American Life"$
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Tamara Plakins Thornton

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781469626932

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469626932.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA PRESS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.northcarolina.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of North Carolina Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in NCSO for personal use.date: 21 September 2021

Gentleman Actuary

Gentleman Actuary

(p.82) Chapter Four Gentleman Actuary
Nathaniel Bowditch and the Power of Numbers

Tamara Plakins Thornton

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter examines Nathaniel Bowditch’s assumption of a leading role in Salem’s economic and social elite, and the business conduct, social activities, and religious and partisan loyalties elite membership entailed. Following a final Pacific trading voyage, in 1804 Bowditch assumed the helm of the Essex Fire and Marine Insurance Company (EFM). Though one of a new breed of financial institutions and business corporations in the early republic, under Bowditch, the EFM followed longstanding informal and personal modes of business conduct. In his work with the East India Marine Society logbooks and museum collections, however, Bowditch introduced standardized, impersonal information systems that heralded his later approach to institutions. Salem’s elite social circles embraced Bowditch, but not without noting his lack of a collegiate education and the social polish it ostensibly imparted. Bowditch’s church affiliation and Federalist party activities, on the other hand, anchored him securely in elite circles.

Keywords:   Bowditch, Nathaniel, Salem, Massachusetts, Elites, Marine insurance, Corporations, Business conduct, Information systems, East India Marine Society, Federalist Party

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