Friday, February 26th. Car insurance is both required and a major item in the budget of many households. The idea of insuring cars against accidents began this month in 1898 when the Traveler’s Insurance Company issued a policy to Dr. Truman Martin of Buffalo. His policy cost $12.25 and gave him $5,000 in coverage. Martin was chiefly concerned about accidents between his automobile — one of fewer than 4,000 in the entire country at the time — and horses, which numbered about 18 million on farms alone. Now, cars and trucks vastly outnumber horses. There are nearly 14,000 property and casualty insurance firms in the U.S., and over $109 billion worth of insurable automotive assets are manufactured annually. You can find more facts about America from the U.S. Census Bureau online at <www.census.gov>.
Saturday, February 27th. On this date in 1872, America’s third female law student was graduated. But this third was a first. Charlotte Ray was a freeborn African-American, and the first black woman to graduate law school. With her degree from historically black Howard University, she shortly began her law practice in Washington, D.C., and was the first woman accredited to argue a case before the Supreme Court. When Charlotte Ray graduated, only some 8,500 college and professional degrees were awarded in the U.S. Today, among the 25 million African-Americans over 25 years old, nearly 20 percent have bachelor’s degrees or higher levels of attainment. Over 1.8 million blacks have graduate or professional degrees. You can find more facts about America’s people, places and economy, from the American Community Survey, at <www.census.gov>.
Sunday, February 28th. Although February is the calendar’s shortest month, it looms large in America’s history of railroad development. In 1815, the first state charter for a railroad was issued by New Jersey for a never-completed line between Trenton and New Brunswick. On this date in 1827, the famed Baltimore and Ohio Railroad was chartered to carry passengers and freight. And February 1830 saw the first charter for an interstate railroad to serve Virginia and North Carolina. The peak year for the number of railroads was 1907, with over 1,500 lines in operation, and the greatest extent of track mileage came in 1930 at nearly 430,000 miles. While the iron horse is no longer so singularly vital to transportation, more than $18.5 billion worth of rolling stock are manufactured annually. Profile America is in its19th year as a public service of the U.S. Census Bureau.