Elihu B.Frost

July 17, 1890, Charles Morris called on a young lawyer named Elihu B. Frost regarding a pending legal suit involving his dredging company. In the process, they discussed John Hollandís problem. Elihu Frost promised to have his father, Calvin Frost, inquire into the status of the 1888 submarine boat competition.

E. B. Frost considered John Holland to be a talented man who deserved support. On February 28, 1893, he told Charles Morris that he would consider forming a company to fund John Hollandís continued experiments with submarine torpedo boats.

When the Holland Torpedo Boat Company was incorporated in the spring of 1893, E. B. Frost assumed the position of secretary. Frost collected affidavits testifying to the success of Hollandís earlier submarines and used them to secure investors. He also built a system of foreign patents and agencies empowered to negotiate contracts with interested governments.

By 1895, Frost was convinced that Holland was a mechanical genius, who, properly handled was worth millions of dollars to the company. Holland was assigned a sizable share of stock, but not enough for a controlling interest. The Holland Torpedo Boat Company was Frost's first priority. He took out a large insurance policy on John Holland and designated the company as the beneficiary.

When Isaac Rice took over the Holland Torpedo Boat Company in 1899, Frost was retained as secretary-treasurer. Later that year, "Frost secured through Senator William M Stewart of Nevada, the passage of an amendment to the Act of 10 June 1896 providing that the naval appropriation set aside by the Act should now be designated for two boats similar to the Holland." This would allow the government to purchase the Holland VI rather than the Plunger.

"Frost knew they needed all the friends they could get, and he was not adverse to treading on dangerous ground when he thought the end justified the means. [When] Captain Jaques former president of Holland Torpedo Boat Company, failed to receive what he believed to be his fair share of Electric Boat stock in surrender of his earlier holdings, he threatened to expose the names of naval personnel for whom Frost held stock in trust. Jaques's 'most impudent demand' called for all the legal counsel that Frost could muster to prevent an investigation of the alleged fraudulent activities."1
  1. Morris, Richard K., John P. Holland: Inventor of the Modern Submarine. (Annapolis: U.S. Naval Institute, 1966; 2nd ed., Univ. S.C. Press, 1998), pg 104.

1999, Gary McCue

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