Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
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COOK, Zebedee, insurance manager, born in Newburyport, Massachusetts, 11 January, 1786 ; died in Framingham, 24 January, 1858. At an early age he went to Boston to seek his fortune. He first entered on a mercantile career, but in 1815 turned his attention to insurance, and was among the first to introduce into this country the system known as "mutual insurance." He was made president in 1822 of the Eagle insurance company, and held the office until 1828. During the next ten years he developed his ideas so thoroughly that in 1838 he was invited to New York to become president of the Mutual safety insurance company, the first established in that City on the system of a division of profits between the insurers and the insured. The business transacted was entirely marine. While Mr. Cook was a resident of Boston he was, in addition to his business requirements, deeply interested in horticulture and rural improvements. By an article published 9 January, 1829, in the "New-England Farmer," he gave the first impulse to the formation of the Massachusetts horticultural society. On 24 February a meeting was held in his office, and the society was incorporated on 12 June. General Dearborn was the first president, and Mr. Cook vice-president. On the resignation of General Dearborn in 1834, Mr. Cook was elected to the vacancy. By his efforts the lsabella grape was introduced into New England. He procured the cuttings and began the culture. He served in the Massachusetts legislature from 1835 till 1839. After nearly twenty years' residence and business in New York, he retired, at the age of seventy-one, to Framingham, Massachusetts.
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