29. May 2013 · Comments Off on CRAIG, Edward Burr (Honorable) · Categories: Biographies · Tags: ,

HON. E. B. CRAIG. Edward Burr Craig, now vice president of the National Life and Accident Insurance Company, whose home office is in Nashville, was born in Giles county, August 12, 1859, son of William Jackson and Virginia (Abernathy) Craig. The Craigs are of Scotch descent. He was educated at Webb’s school, from which he went to the Peoples National Bank, of Pulaski, of which bank he became cashier and so remained until 1893, when he was elected treasurer and insurance commissioner of Tennessee.

From his first day as state treasurer, January 12, 1893, until the close of his fourth term, January 12, 1901, Edward B. Craig served the state of Tennessee with preeminent ability. His record was one of accomplishment. He was not content to draw his salary and merely perform the routine duties of the office but he went out to better the conditions of the state and he succeeded. When he went in the office the three per cent bonds of Tennessee were quoted in the market at 98 cents on the dollar. Among his first official acts was to locate and take up and cancel one million dollars of the state’s bonds that had been reported to be floating around New York as collateral.

It was his fight for safe and sane legislation over the strenuous opposition of designing politicians that saved the credit of Tennessee. During the session of the legislature of 1895 a group of selfish politicians had a bill introduced to reduce the tax rate of the state thirty-three and one-third per cent. A reduction of taxes is always popular and had Craig had only his personal interests at heart he would have joined in this popular move, but he saw the danger to the state and fought the passage of the bill with all his might. He prepared a financial statement showing that a deficit of seven hundred thousand dollars would arise within two years if the bill became a law. His advice was not heeded and the bill was enacted. At the end of two years there was a deficit in the treasury of almost the exact amount predicted by Mr. Craig. The next legislature passed the bill favored by him and the credit of Tennessee was saved.

It was Edward B. Craig who began the fight to provide for a sinking fund to pay [p.520] off the bonded debt of the state, and to him more than to anyone else is due the credit for the passage of that act. He wrote the plank in the democratic platform of 1898 which declared for a sinking fund and it was through his influence that it was finally enacted into a law. Under this law more than five million dollars of the bonded debt was paid before maturity of the bonds.

One of the greatest measures sponsored by Mr. Craig failed of passage because of the jealousies of politicians. In the year 1899 he had made arrangements for the funding of the state debt by the issuance of serial bonds bearing three per cent interest and running forty years, with the privilege of retiring three hundred and fifty thousand dollars annually. When the legislature failed to grasp this opportunity and rejected the plan of E. B. Craig it lost two and a half million dollars for the taxpayers of Tennessee. The bonded debt was finally funded on a four and twenty-six hundredths per cent basis, and the interest paid annually is about one hundred and twenty-five thousand dollars more than would have been paid under the Craig funding bill. Tennessee has had many faithful officials but for real service no one has excelled Edward B. Craig.

In 1903 he organized the Volunteer State Life Insurance Company, whose home office is in Chattanooga, and became vice president and general manager of it. In 1913 he was appointed by President Cleveland internal revenue collector for Middle Tennessee and served for eight years. He is now vice president of the National Life and Accident Insurance Company, of which his brother, C. A. Craig, is president. (Tennessee, The Volunteer State, 1769-1923, Vol. 2, John Trotwood Moore and Austin P. Foster, S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., Chicago, 1923, pp. 518-19)

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