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Geddes, James (22 July 1763–19 August 1838), civil engineer, judge, and surveyor, was born of Scottish parents (names unknown) near Carlisle, Pennsylvania. As a youth, Geddes studied mathematics with a tutor and studied languages independently. In 1793 he visited the area that later became New York state’s Onondaga County; he moved there the following year. He organized one of the state’s first salt works, helping to establish the salt industry, which would dominate the area’s economy for many years....

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Oliver, Andrew (13 November 1731–06 December 1799), jurist and scientist, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of Lieutenant Governor Andrew Oliver and Mary Fitch. A scion of wealth and power, Oliver developed early into a dilettante. At Harvard College he pursued extracurricular studies in French and such arts as music, astronomy, and cryptography. He also developed skill as a jeweler, and his letters often contain comic verse. Graduating with the class of 1749, Oliver continued study toward master’s degrees at Yale (1751) and Harvard (1752). ...

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Tappan, Benjamin (25 May 1773–20 April 1857), jurist, politician, and scientist, was born in Northampton, Massachusetts, the son of Benjamin Tappan, a goldsmith and merchant, and Sarah Homes. The family was both prosperous and well connected. Tappan prepared for Harvard at a local academy but then pursued a literary and practical self-education, becoming versed in several trades. He studied with ...

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Zeisel, Hans (01 December 1905–07 March 1992), legal scholar and statistician, was born in Kaaden, in the present-day Czech Republic, the son of Otto Zeisl, a lawyer, and Elsa Frank, a journalist. (Zeisel added a second e to his family name after he emigrated to the United States.) Zeisel’s family moved to Vienna, Austria, when he was an infant, and the intense cultural and political atmosphere of prewar and interwar Vienna did much to form his character. He studied at the University of Vienna, receiving a law degree in 1927 and a doctorate in political science in 1928. He practiced law, but his most enduring experience in Vienna was his association with the mathematician-turned-psychologist ...