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.
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