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1848 – 1873

A National Promise

A small group looks beyond the big cities to bring peace of mind to every part of a growing nation.
And The National Life Insurance Company of the United States’ first claim event takes place outside what was then the U.S.—and our reserves. Learn how we kept our first promise.



National Life is born on November 13

Founders Benjamin Balch, Joseph B. Danforth, Dr. Julius Y. Dewey, Homer W. Heaton, Timothy Redfield and Paul Dillingham charter the name, “National Life Insurance Company of the United States.”

Image: Company Charter


The company takes the first business steps

At its new office in Montpelier, the company takes the first business steps of conducting a board meeting, electing officers, issuing a prospectus, and adopting bylaws and the table of rates. The company elects William C. Kittredge as President and Julius Dewey, M.D. as the first Medical Director. The first General Agency opens in Montreal, Quebec.

Image: First home in 1850 at 27 State Street in office space leased from Vermont Mutual Fire Insurance.

Application for the first policy


First claim

Rowland Allen of Ferrisburgh, Vermont, dies in 1850 in San Diego, on his way to the California Gold Rush. California was not yet part of the United States, but the founders know they had to fulfill the policy despite a clause limiting its geographic reach to the U.S. Another limit was the funds the young company had time to reserve. To make good on the promise, the founders secured capital based on their personal credit. Mrs. Allen was so grateful upon receiving the death benefit from Julius Dewey that she placed advertisements for National Life.

Image: Illustration of Rowland Allen heading to the gold rush

Second home office

National Life Group’s second home office.

Image: Second Home Office

The first Annual Report

Application for Death Claim #1 : Rowland Allen


Dr. Julius Y. Dewey is elected President

Dr. Julius Y. Dewey is elected President. New by-laws are adopted.  

First policies issued in Maine and Wisconsin. Insurance in force is 401 Whole Life policies with a total face of $498,400, and 381 Term with a total face of $479,950 for a total of almost $1 million.

Dr. Dewey’s desk and company safe


Charter is amended

Company becomes National Life Insurance Company, “of the United States” is removed from name. First policy issued in New Jersey.

Dr. Dewey’s pencil


Third Home Office building

The company occupies its third Home Office building at 116 State Street, where it remained for thirteen years.


Civil War begins

Charles Dewey, son of Dr. Dewey, begins to appear in company records at age 44. Civil War begins. Company feels war will be short so insureds are allowed to serve in the military for a 2% extra premium. First policy issued in Rhode Island.


Fourth Home Office building

The company occupies its fourth Home Office building located at 110 State Street in space rented from Vermont Mutual.

For 175 years, National Life Group has been keeping promises.
Learn how we’ve evolved in the timeline above and in the video here.

National Life Group® is a trade name of National Life Insurance Company, founded in Montpelier, VT in 1848, Life Insurance Company of the Southwest, Addison, TX, chartered in 1955, and their affiliates. Each company of National Life Group is solely responsible for its own financial condition and contractual obligations. Life Insurance Company of the Southwest is not an authorized insurer in New York and does not conduct insurance business in New York.

Home Office: One National Life Drive, Montpelier, VT 05604 | (800) 344-7437 |

TC137569(1123)3 | Cat No 106748(1123)