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Allen, Zachariah (15 September 1795–17 March 1882), textile manufacturer, engineer, and inventor, was born in Providence, Rhode Island, the son of Zachariah Allen, a merchant, and Ann Crawford. Allen graduated from Brown University in 1813, receiving a certificate in proficiency from the newly established medical school in addition to his college degree. Although the War of 1812 frustrated his original plan to continue medical study abroad, Allen maintained a lifelong interest in science that expressed itself in practical and theoretical research and writing, principally in mechanics and the physical sciences. He joined the Rhode Island bar in 1815 after studying with James Burrill, Jr., but his career as a lawyer was brief. In 1817 he married Eliza Harriet Arnold; they had three children. Serving on the Providence town council from 1820 to 1823, Allen modernized the town’s fire-fighting system and was an effective proponent of public education, two causes that he continued to espouse throughout his life....

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Bachelder, John (07 March 1817–01 July 1906), manufacturer and inventor, was born in Weare, New Hampshire, the son of William Bachelder, a lumberman and blacksmith, and Mary Bailey. Bachelder went to public school and to college for training as a teacher. After teaching school for three years, Bachelder left New Hampshire for Boston. There he found employment as an accountant for a Middlesex Canal transportation firm. Soon he formed a partnership that competed with his former employers. The business closed upon the completion of the Manchester railroad, which eliminated the demand for shipping on the Middlesex Canal. In 1843 Bachelder married Adaline Wason; they had three children. With the demise of his transportation enterprise, he worked in Boston’s dry-goods business until 1846. During the winter of 1846, he traveled to England in an effort to establish himself as an importer. By 1847 he had established his own firm once again in a partnership called Bachelder, Burr and Company....

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Crompton, George (23 March 1829–29 December 1886), inventor and manufacturer, was born at Holcombe, Tottingham, Lancashire, England, the son of William Crompton, a textile inventor, and Sarah Low. After immigrating to the United States in 1836, William Crompton brought his family in 1839 from England to Taunton, Massachusetts. There Crompton attended local schools before going to Millbury Academy. He then worked as a bookkeeper in his father’s office and as a mechanic with the Colt Company in Hartford, Connecticut. From an early age he displayed an uncommon mechanical aptitude and a desire to see a mechanical problem through from start to completion....