The Accounting Historians Journal Vol. 11, No. 2 Fall 1984
William D. Cooper UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA AT GREENSBORO
GEORGE C. MATHEWS: AN EARLY COMMISSIONER OF THE SEC
Abstract: George C. Mathews, one of the first commissioners of the Securities and Exchange Commission, was charged with general supervision over accounting matters brought before the Commission. Under his leadership, the office of Chief Accountant was established, Accounting Series Releases were initiated, and the basic framework for handling accounting matters was formulated.
The Securities Act of 1933, a product of the "New Deal" legislation, was proposed by the Roosevelt administration. The primary objective of the Act was to protect investors from false information in the securities markets. First administered by the Interstate Commerce Commission, the 1933 Act was transferred to a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in 1934. It is often called the "truth in securities" law, and the Senate Committee on Banking and Currency listed the following as being among the major purposes of the Securities Act of 1933:
1. To prevent the exploitation of the public by the sale of unsound, fraudulent, and worthless securities through misrepresentation; and
2. To place adequate and true information before the in-vestor.1
To accomplish these objectives, the Act required any firm issuing securities for public sale to file a registration statement and to provide a prospectus that contained most of the information filed with the Commission. The SEC did not attempt to judge the merits of an issue, but assumed that disclosure of information would allow the investor to make an informed choice among alternative invest-ments.2 An integral part of this philosophy was the work of one of the first Commissioners of the SEC, George C. Mathews.
George C. Mathews, born 1886 in Northwood, Iowa, was gradu-ated from the University of Wisconsin in 1908. After graduation,