Insull, Samuel

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Insull, Samuel

(ĭn`səl), 1859–1938, American public utilities financier, b. London. He arrived in the United States in 1881 and was employed by Thomas A. EdisonEdison, Thomas Alva,
1847–1931, American inventor, b. Milan, Ohio. A genius in the practical application of scientific principles, Edison was one of the greatest and most productive inventors of his time, but his formal schooling was limited to three months in Port Huron,
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 as a private secretary. He later became prominent in the management of the Edison industrial holdings. By 1907 he overcame competing public utilities companies in Chicago and soon controlled the city's transit system. After numerous mergers he expanded his operations throughout Illinois and into neighboring states. He eventually formed (1912) a mammoth interlocking directorate that operated over 300 steam plants, almost 200 hydroelectric generating plants, and numerous other power plants throughout the United States. His companies flourished in the 1920s, but in 1932 his empire collapsed. Insull went to Greece, then Turkey. Extradited (1934) to the United States, he faced fraud and embezzlement charges (1934–35) but was acquitted.

Bibliography

See studies by F. McDonald (1962) and J. F. Wasik (2006).

Insull, Samuel

(1859–1938) public utilities executive; born in London, England. A bookkeeper for one of Thomas Edison's agents in England, he came to America in 1881 to be Edison's personal secretary. By 1889 Insull was vice-president of Edison General Electric Company in Schenectedy, N.Y. In 1892 he became president of Chicago Edison Company, and by 1907 all of Chicago's electricity was being generated by Insull's Commonwealth Edison Company, a tribute to his economic management. He pioneered in unifying rural electrification and also in supplying gas. His vast empire of utility companies had been financed by the sale of stock, and after the stock market collapsed in 1929, his empire also went under. In 1932 he fled to Greece but he was forced to return to Chicago in 1934. He was tried on mail fraud, bankruptcy, and embezzlement charges but was acquitted. Some felt he had been made the scapegoat for the whole stock market debacle. Bankrupt, he was reduced to living off modest pensions during his final years in Europe.
References in periodicals archive ?
Samuel Insull, a one-time assistant to Thomas Edison, saw the value of gaining a monopoly for electrical service in Chicago in exchange for government regulation.
28, 1881, a British stenographer named Samuel Insull arrived in the port of New York, hired by Thomas Edison's chief engineer to serve as Edison's private secretary.
The work focuses on Samuel Insull and the development of the national electrical system, Texas natural resource magnate Jack Bowen, and a series of business leaders who built and nurtured the modern natural gas industry.
When Samuel Insull developed the modern electrical grid and installed electricity in nearly every American home, the modern condenser refrigerator infiltrated American life, and the IcyBall eventually went the way of the buggy whip.
Inspired by fugitive Chicago millionaire Samuel Insull, then in Europe evading the IRS, Gray torched the New Dealers he saw as hounding businessmen for their success.
He fleshes out individuals--Thomas Vail, Samuel Insull, John Wanamaker, and others--who have usually received less attention, but also played key roles in industrial and business growth.
Instead of limiting the blame to Prohibition-era gangster Al Capone, Anderson fingered Samuel Insull, the founder of Commonwealth Edison, Chicago's electric company.
That was the great innovation of Samuel Insull, sort of the Steve Jobs of the electric power industry.
Although acknowledging the possible breadth of its central theme, the narrative of Icarus in the Boardroom focuses on four central characters: Jay Cooke, Samuel Insull, Ken Lay, and Bernie Ebbers.
In his influential biographies of Alexander Hamilton and Samuel Insull, among other writings, McDonald helped to combat the condescending hostility toward capitalism that long afflicted the writing of American history.
Even the collapse of Enron mirrors the stock pyramid schemes that brought down Samuel Insull, Edison's lab assistant who became the greatest Power Baron of them all back in the 1920s.
THE 1920S MADE THEIR GREATEST mark in financial corruption: Ponzi and his scheme, banks that peddled junk bonds and stocks, Samuel Insull and his pyramided utility holding companies, and New York Stock Exchange President Richard Whitney, who finally went to jail in 1938.