Direct Mail and the Civil War
By Denny Hatch
From The New York Times, May 14, 1904
DEATH OF A. S. HATCH
Once a Leading Financier—Floated Great Popular Loan
Alfrederick Smith Hatch, at one time, one of the most prominent financiers in the United States, died yesterday at his home in Tarrytown. He was born seventy-five years ago in Burlington, VT, where his father, Dr. Horace Hatch, was a well-known physician.
When he was a young man, he started a bank in Jersey City and a few years later formed a partnership with Harvey Fisk. It was while these two men were together that they achieved fame in the financial world. During the Civil War, when the Government's borrowing power had been exhausted, the firm, of which Fisk & Hatch were the partners, undertook to float a popular loan of $500,000,000 in bonds. Although bankers in those days were not considered in the best of standing if they advertised, the firm still sent a broadcast over the country—a circular appealing to the patriotism of the people.
The appeal to the country brought many curious replies. In one case, a farmer traveled 800 miles to offer the savings of the family. He brought the money in a carpetbag and dumped it on the table in the office of the firm. It was a curious collection of coins and it took over an hour to sort them out, but when this work had been completed, it was found that the farmer had brought $17,000 in his old bag.
My fascination with direct marketing probably comes from a piling on of genes. A.S. Hatch was my great-grandfather, and his mailings across the country to raise money for the Union are largely responsible for America being what it is today. Following the Civil War, the firm of Fisk & Hatch used these same techniques to help finance the transcontinental railroad.