Depictions of Slavery in Confederate and Southern States
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DEPARTMENT OF INSURANCE RELEASES SLAVERY ERA INSURANCE POLICY RESEARCH REPORT
SACRAMENTO – The California Department of Insurance (CDI) released today
the results of an industry survey conducted in accordance with Senate Bill 2199
on the subject of slavery era insurance policies.
SB 2199 was passed by the State Legislature in the 2000 session and signed
into law by California Governor Gray Davis on September 29, 2000.
The report includes variations of data including slave name, slaveholder
name, slave occupation, county or town and some policy numbers from the
documents collected. Many of the
slave policies reported only include a first name.
All companies doing business during the slavery era have complied with the
The vast majority of insurers responded that they were not incorporated until
after the slavery era ended and they had no predecessor companies (the
Emancipation Proclamation was issued by President Abraham Lincoln on January 1,
1863 and the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was adopted in
Of the insurers in business (or had predecessors that were in business)
during the slavery era, most reported they searched all of their records and
were unable to find any records related to policies on the lives of slaves.
Each company was also required to submit a detailed methodology
explaining how their historical search was conducted.
Eight companies provided documents related to slavery era insurance policies.
Three have provided names of slaves and slaveholders. “I believe
historical and genealogical societies may find some of the information
particularly useful,” said Insurance Commissioner Harry W. Low.
“When you consider many of the documents collected are more than 150
years old, we were really working against time."
An example of the kind of information available in the report includes data
submitted by an insurer who acquired a database of information about
transatlantic slave trade. The
insurer reviewed historical records it received from predecessor corporations
and discovered a copy of a slave policy written in 1855 for a slave named Peter,
identified as a laborer working in Mississippi. The company provided a copy of the policy.
The statute required the Insurance Commissioner to request and obtain
information from insurers licensed and doing business in California regarding
any records of slaveholder insurance policies issued by the company or
any predecessor company during the slavery
era. The bill also required the
commissioner to obtain the names of any slaveholders or slaves described in
those insurance records and make the information available to the public and the
The statute also required: Each insurer licensed and doing business in this
state shall research and report to the commissioner with respect to any records
within the insurer's possession or knowledge relating to insurance policies
issued to slaveholders that provided coverage for damage to or death of their
After hearings in Los Angeles and San Francisco, and ample time for public
comment, the Department’s regulations implementing the statute became
effective in October 2001.
The reports filed by the insurers are available for viewing
at CDI’s Public Viewing Rooms in San Francisco at 45 Fremont Street (415-538-4300),
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