Zachariah Allen

Zachariah Allen

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Zachariah Allen

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Zachariah Allen (September 15, 1795 – March 17, 1882) was an American textile manufacturer, scientist, lawyer, writer, inventor and civil leader from Providence, Rhode Island. He was educated at Philips Exeter Academy and at Brown University where he graduated in 1813.

Allen became a textile manufacturer and in 1822 constructed a woolen mill in which he incorporated innovative fire-safety features and his own mechanical improvements. He also built the first hot-air furnace system for the heating of homes. In 1833 he patented his best-known device, the automatic cut-off valve for steam engines. A History of the Growth of the Steam Engine, Robert H. Thurston, 1978, pg.318

He founded the Manufacturers’ Mutual Fire Insurance Company in 1835, the forerunner of the present day insurance company FM Global.

Allen was also a prolific writer of scientific texts and wrote numerous books and articles during his lifetime.

Early life

Zachariah Allen was born on September 15, 1795 in Providence, Rhode Island to Zachariah and Anne (Crawford) Allen. His older brother Philip, served Rhode Island as governor (1851-1853) and later as a United States senator (1853-1859). Allen's father died in 1801, when he was only five years old, so he was mostly raised by his mother, and acquired a love of knowledge, particularly science at an early age. He was educated at a school in Medford, Massachusetts, then later...
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