Samuel Insull

Samuel Insull

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Samuel Insull

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Samuel Insull (November 11, 1859 – July 16, 1938) was an Anglo-American innovator and investor based in Chicago who greatly contributed to creating an integrated electrical infrastructure in the United States. Insull was notable for purchasing utilities and railroads using holding companies, as well as the abuse of them. He was responsible also for the building of the Chicago Civic Opera House in 1929.

Early life

Samuel Insull was born in London, the son of Samuel Insull, a tradesman and lay preacher who was active in the Temperance movement, and Emma Short. His career began as an apprentice clerk for various local businesses at age 14. He went on to become a stenographer at Vanity Fair. Through a newspaper ad, the 19 year old became the switchboard operator for the London office of Edison's telephone companies. When he was told of a job for Edison in the United States, Insull indicated he would be glad to have it, provided it was as Thomas Edison's personal secretary.

In 1881, at the age of 21, Insull emigrated to the United States, complete with side whiskers to make him appear older than his years. In the decade that followed, Insull took on increasing responsibilities in Edison's business endeavors, building electrical power stations throughout the United States. With several other Edison Pioneers, he founded Edison General Electric, which later became the publicly held company now known as...
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