In January 1882, at a Chicago hotel, a small group of traveling men chanced to meet and discuss the problems that confronted the salesmen. The importance of these problems, and the necessity for cooperation in solving them, caused these men to invite a number of other salesmen to a meeting at the Lima House, Lima, Ohio, on February 12, 1882. At that meeting, attended by twenty-four traveling salesmen, a temporary organization known as “The Traveling Men’s Club” was formed.
The next meeting of this group was held at Bellefontaine, Ohio on June 24, 1882, at which time a permanent organization was effected, Constitution and Bylaws adopted, officers elected, and objectives set out. This was to be known as “The Travelers Protective Association of the United States.”
The objectives of this Association were to provide for its members the securing of special concessions from hotels, railroads and other transportation agencies and to trace grievances reported by the members. Membership dues were set at $1.00 a year, and increased to $2.00 three years later. No other benefits were provided.
The organization grew steadily and was fairly successful in attaining its objectives, but the expenses were far greater than income. At the Annual Meeting each year a deficit was reported, and usually paid by voluntary contributions from the active members.
At the Annual Meeting in Atlantic City in 1889, the deficit was of such amount that the members realized another year would see the end of this group, even the most dedicated members could not continue to make up this deficit each year. It was decided, however, to meet at Denver, Colorado in 1890.
Prior to this meeting a group of men in St. Louis, headed by George S. McGrew, known as “The Travelers Club of the City of St. Louis,” decided to try to keep the organization alive by taking out a new charter, adding accident insurance to its objectives, and increasing the dues. Articles of Association were filed in the Circuit Court of St. Louis on May 30, 1890, and this group attended the Denver Convention with a confident belief that they would be privileged to take a leading part in giving life to a new organization, built upon the foundation of the old.
The St. Louis group offered to take over the deficit of approximately $2,200.00 in return for moving the head-quarters from Chicago to St. Louis, and the acceptance of the proposed plan of granting insurance benefits to its members. The offer was accepted by the Convention, and on June 3, 1890, it was decided to use the charter obtained by the Missouri members and reorganize as a fraternal benefit association under the name of “The Commercial Travelers Benefit Association of the United States.” A pro forma decree of incorporation was issued on June 7, 1890, by the Circuit Court, City of St. Louis and duly recorded; also filed in the office of the Secretary of State of Missouri and a charter issued, June 11, 1890.
Not wishing to lose the identity of the original organization, members petitioned the Court to amend the charter to change the corporate name to “The Travelers Protective Association of America,” and this was granted effective July 23, 1890. The name has remained the same, and in addition the organization has been well known by its initials, as the T.P.A. of A.
Officers elected to chart the course of the new organization were:
George S. McGrew, President
Louis T. LaBeaume, Secretary-Treasurer
- MURRAY CARLTON
- RICHARD TREVOR
- R.E. NASH
- F.M. HOTCHKINS
- JOHN C. WILKINSON
These officers, and the nucleus of loyal members, were successful in getting the organization off to a good start, and reported a membership of 1,139 at the next convention in 1891.
Eligibility to membership was confined to executives of manufacturing concerns and their traveling salesmen, executives of wholesale or jobbing concerns and their traveling salesmen, or those whose duties were confined to selling merchandise for resale. It was not until 1934 that the eligibility clause was broadened to include all persons who qualified as preferred risks, according to the Classification of Risks adopted at that time.
The principal purposes of the Association are – to bring about a better acquaintance, more fraternal and binding feeling among its members: 1.) to secure from all transportation companies and hotels. 2.) just and equitable rights for commercial travelers as a class. 3.) to further elevate the social and moral character of the members of the Association. 4.) to take an interest in and participate in affairs and matters pertaining to the welfare of the Association and its members. 5.) and to be and operate as a fraternal beneficiary society, without capital stock, solely for the mutual benefit of its members and their beneficiaries and not for profit. 6.) having a lodge system with ritualistic form of worry and a representative form of government. 7.) making provision in some cases for the payment of benefits where death or disability of it’s members results solely from accident.
Initially, dues were set at $l0.00 a year, allowing a weekly benefit of $10.00 for 52 weeks, and a death benefit (where death resulted from accident) of $2,000.00. Wise management of the Association’s affairs resulted in an increase in the principal sum in each of the first four years, so that by 1894, it had reached $5,000.00. It has remained at that figure to the present time.
An increase in disability benefits to $25.00 a week for a maximum of 52 weeks took place in 1892. Gradually through the years, this benefit has been increased to $40.00 per week. Partial disability benefits for a maximum of 5 weeks were added in 1911, and presently are set at $20.00 per week.
In 1941 the Association added to the contract an airplane death benefit of $2,500.00, when the member was killed in a regularly licensed passenger plane, operated on a regularly scheduled route. This benefit was increased to $5,000.00 in 1949, to $10,000.00 in 1955, and to $50,000.00 in 1980.
In 1947, after a four-year trial period, The Association added, as a permanent part of the contract, 28 days’ hospitalization benefits at $25.00 per week. Where such confinement is the result of an accidental injury for which a regular disability benefit is paid. This benefit was increased to $50.00 per week in 1951, to $60.00 per week in 1969, and to $100.00 per week in 1980.
In 1963, the non-disabling medical benefit allowing a member payment for a minor injury up to $20.00 in payment on his doctor bill in lieu of other benefits was adopted and has since been increased to $50.00.
Many exceptions and exclusions have been removed from the contract for the benefit of the members at no additional cost.
Since its inception the Association has grasped every opportunity to increase protection and extend the service offered to members, and has continued to broaden the list of those who are eligible to become members.
At the present time, the Association is licensed in twenty-nine states, has twenty-eight Divisions, with 151 Posts in the principal cities of these states.
Over 14,500 brothers have been members for 25 years or longer, and over 1,500 are 50 year members.
The Association has been alive to the issues of the day, and it has been successful in securing enactment of laws in various states regulating hotels and sanitary conditions. The Association was active in proposing a bill in Congress creating the Department of Commerce and labor in our government. The Assosiation instigated the bill compelling railroads to use steel passenger coaches. And in 1946, the Assosiation inaugurated an annual Child Accident Prevention Week Program on a national scale. This program has proved highly successful and now enjoys cooperation of many Police and Fire Departments, civic clubs, and Parent-Teacher Associations. Our safety-minded members have been instrumental in presenting and sponsoring driver-training laws in the various states.
At the National Convention in 1966, the Constitution was amended to provide for the formation of Community Services Chairmen at the Post, State, and National levels, in order to more closely align the Association with Community Service opportunities in all areas.This service is undertaken in an altruistic manner, not only for our members and their families but for the benefit of the general public as well.
In 1975 a TPA, Scholarship Trust for the Deaf or near Deaf was created. The purpose of this trust, to be giving financial aid to residents of the United States, or any of its possessions, who suffer deafness or hearing impairments, and who will benefit from treatment or education, and who are unable to provide the funds therefore. Specific grants are usually made quarterly by a Board of Trustees.
Officers of the Association are elected at the Annual Meeting, and come from the various Divisions through-out the nation. The Association enjoys a representative form of government in which each member has a voice, if they care to exercise his privilege.
Effective January 1, 1993, women were granted acceptance into TPA membership. Since their acceptance, women have proven to be a valuable asset to TPA. Many now hold a variety of offices at all levels and have passionately furthered the community service and child safety programs of TPA.
Every member of The Travelers Protective Association of America can be proud to belong to an organization that has weathered every storm and has done so much, not only for its members but for the many communities in which it is organized. Please accept this as our invitation to you to become a member of TPA.