David Ames Wells

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David Ames Wells (June 17, 1828 - November 5, 1898) was an American engineer, textbook author, economist and advocate of low tariffs.


Born in Springfield, Massachusetts, he graduated from Williams College in 1847. In 1848 he joined the staff of the Springfield Republican newspaper, where he invented a device to fold papers. He graduated from the Lawrence Scientific School at Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1851, where he worked with Louis Agassiz. Also in 1851, he was appointed assistant professor at the Lawrence Scientific School, and was lecturer on chemistry and physics at Groton Academy. He edited The Annual of Scientific Discovery from 1850 to 1866. He invented devices for textile mills, and wrote The Science of Common Things (1857) and Wells's Principles and Applications of Chemistry (1858); Wells's First Principles of Geology (1861) and Wells's Natural Philosophy (1863), which went through fifteen editions as a college textbook.

He was a strong supporter of Abraham Lincoln during the American Civil War, writing pamphlets that reassured investors of the soundness of Lincoln's financial policies. He first attained reputation as a political economist by an address on “Our Burden and Our Strength,” read before a literary society of Troy in 1864. It discussed the resources of the United States in regard to the nation's debt-paying ability, and attracted the attention of President Lincoln, who appointed him in 1865...
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