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Henry Baldwin Hyde

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Occupation  insurance executive
Name  Henry Hyde
Children  James Hazen Hyde

Henry Baldwin Hyde
Born  May 2, 1834 (1834-05-02) Catskill, New York
Known for  1859 founded Equitable Life Assurance Society of the United States 1868 introduced Tontine plan for life insurance
Spouse(s)  Annie (Fitch) Hyde (m. 1864)
Parent(s)  Lucy Baldwin (Beach) Henry Hazen Hyde
Relatives  grandson Henry Baldwin Hyde
Died  February 15, 1899, New York City, New York, United States
Organizations founded  AXA Equitable Life Insurance Company

Henry Baldwin Hyde, (February 15, 1834–May 2, 1899) was an American businessman. He is notable for having founded The Equitable Life Assurance Society of the United States in 1859. By the time of Hyde's death, The Equitable was the largest life insurance company in the world.



Hyde was born in Catskill, New York on February 15, 1834, the son of Henry Hazen Hyde, a successful merchant. He attended the public schools of Catskill, and when he was 16 his teacher decided to move to New York City to join the growing life insurance industry. The teacher persuaded both Hydes to join him, and all three became agents for the Mutual Life Insurance Company of New York.

The younger Hyde worked for several months in Honesdale, Pennsylvania before deciding to return to New York City, where he became a clerk for Merritt, Ely & Company, a dry goods import and wholesale company. He remained there for two years, and then returned to Mutual Life, where his father had recently been appointed to the executive ranks and a place on the board of directors. Hyde rose through the home office staff to become the company's cashier.

In March 1859, Hyde left Mutual Life and established his own company, Equitable Life Assurance Society of the United States. William C. Alexander initially served as president, and Hyde was vice president and general manager. Hyde succeeded to the presidency after Alexander's death in 1874, and remained in the position until his death.

He led the company to construct the Equitable Life Assurance Building for its headquarters, completed on May 1, 1870, and pushed to have the first passenger elevators installed in what was then the tallest office building in the United States.

He was a founding member of the Jekyll Island Club aka The Millionaires Club.

Hyde died at his home in New York City on May 2, 1899. He was buried at Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx.


Hyde sought to guarantee that his son James Hazen Hyde would continue the family’s control of the company after his death. The younger Hyde was appointed a vice president of the company at 22, and was 23 when he inherited a majority interest in the company. By the terms of his father's will, he was scheduled to assume the company presidency in 1906, but a concerted effort against him by the current president and several members of the board of directors led James H. Hyde to leave the company and move to France.


Henry Baldwin Hyde Wikipedia