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A Brooklyn Originated Organization

It is interesting to note that the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, like its prede­cessor, was essentially a Brooklyn organization. The President, Dr. Dow, a retired physician of considerable means, was a highly respected citizen of Brooklyn. The majority of the stockholders and directors were his close associates, not only in the business but in the religious and social circles of that city.

Among these, Joseph F. Knapp was a leader. He had already made his mark in a lithographing business known as Major and Knapp Engraving, Manufacturing, and Litho­graphing Co. He owned 100 shares in the new organization, and was Chairman of its Finance Committee. Elias Jones was Vice President; D. P. Fackler, Consulting Actuary; and Dr. James A. White, Medical Examiner. Similarly, H. A. Jones, S. M. Beard, Samuel W. Truslow, Watson Sandford, Howell Smith, all men of standing in Brooklyn affairs, saw in the organization of this Life insurance company an opportunity to invest their capital profitably and, at the same time, to render a public service.

The Metropolitan was organized and long operated as a stock company, beginning with a capitalization of $200,000, divided into 4,000 shares of $50 each. Provision was made in the charter for a reduction in capitalization to $100,000 when the gross assets of the company would reach $500,000.

Although the company was launched as a profit making enterprise, the charter limited the amount paid to stockholders to 7% on the capital stock, plus one tenth of any surplus remaining after providing for the outstanding liabilities of the company (incidentally, the 1/10 provision was never put into effect and was dropped from the charter in 1874). The remaining 9/10 of the surplus was to be placed to the credit of policyholders in proportion to the amount of their respective premiums.

Stockholders had a vote for every share of the capital stock they owned. Policyholders likewise were entitled to a vote, provided they were insured for at least one year and paid an annual premium of not less than $100, or were entitled to an annuity of $100 or more. Thus, from its very beginning, the company was what is known as a «mixed» or a semi-mutual organization-a fortunate circumstance, as we shall see, for its future security.

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