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Eaton, Amos (17 May 1776–10 May 1842), geologist, botanist, and educational reformer, was born in Chatham, New York, the son of Azubah Hurd and Abel Eaton, farmers. In 1790 Eaton went to Duanesburgh, New York, to live with a relative, Russell Beebe, who taught him land surveying. A blacksmith by trade, Beebe helped Eaton manufacture his own surveying instruments. From 1791 to 1795, Eaton studied the classics under private tutors in Chatham and nearby Hillsdale. He entered Williams College in 1795 and graduated in 1799. Also in 1799, Eaton began to study law in Spencertown, New York, and married Polly Thomas. They had one child before Polly died in 1802. The earliest hint of Eaton’s promise as an educator was realized with the publication of his surveying manual, ...

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Maclure, William (27 October 1763–23 March 1840), scientist and educational reformer, was born in Ayr, Scotland, the son of David McClure, a merchant, and Ann Kennedy. Originally named James McClure, he changed his name at some point in early manhood. After receiving a classical education from private tutors, Maclure chose a career in commerce. Following a journey to the United States in 1782, he became a partner in the American firm of Miller, Hart & Co. in London. After several short stays in the United States, Maclure moved permanently to Philadelphia in 1796 and became an American citizen....

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Ruffner, William Henry (11 February 1824–24 November 1908), educational reformer, clergyman, and geologist, was born in Lexington, Virginia, the son of Henry Ruffner, an educator and clergyman, and Sarah Lyle. Ruffner spent much of his childhood on the campus of Washington College in Lexington, where his father was president and where he earned a bachelor’s degree (1842) and a master’s degree (1845). The elder Ruffner, a Presbyterian minister and an outspoken opponent of slavery, stimulated his son’s lifelong interest in religion and the education of African Americans....