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Underwriting the New United States

Date / time
1:00 pm - 2:00 pm

Hannah Farber of Columbia University will talk on how in the 18th and 19th centuries American maritime insurers used their position at the pinnacle of global trade to shape the new nation.  Hannah is the author of Underwriters of the United States: How Insurance Shaped the American Founding.

The international information they gathered and the capital they generated enabled them to play central roles in state building and economic development. During the Revolution, they helped the U.S. negotiate foreign loans, sell state debts, and establish a national bank. Afterward, they increased their influence by lending money to the federal government and to its citizens. Even as federal and state governments began to encroach on their domain, maritime insurers adapted, preserving their autonomy and authority through extensive involvement in the formation of commercial law. Leveraging their claims to unmatched expertise, they operated free from government interference while simultaneously embedding themselves into the nation’s institutional fabric. By the early nineteenth century, insurers were no longer just risk assessors. They were nation builders and market makers.



Hannah Farber


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