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Scottish American Inventors

As Scotland gave to the world the knowledge of the art of logarithms, the steam engine, the electric telegraph, the wireless telegraph, illuminating gas, the knowledge of chloroform, and many other important inventions, it was to be expected that the inventive faculty of her sons would not fail when transplanted to this country.

Hugh Orr (1717-98), born in Lochwinnoch, inventor of a machine for dressing flax, took a patriotic part in the war of the Revolution by casting guns and shot for the Continental Army, besides doing much to encourage rope-making and spinning. His son, Robert, invented an improved method of making scythes and was the first manufacturer of iron shovels in New England. William Longstreet (1759-1814), a New Jersey Scot, invented and patented an improvement in cotton-gins called the "breast-roller," also a portable steam saw-mill. As early as 1790 he was at work on the problem of the application of steam power to the propulsion of boats, but lack of funds prevented operations until 1807, the same year in which Fulton launched his steamboat. His son, Augustus Baldwin Longstreet (1790-1870), became President of South Carolina College. Robert Fulton (1765-1815), of Ayrshire origin through Ulster, was, as every one knows, the first to successfully apply steam to navigation. Hugh Maxwell (1777-1860), publisher and newspaper editor, of Scottish descent, invented the "printer's roller" (patented in 1817), cast his own types and engraved his own woodcuts. Henry Burden (1791-1871), born in Dunblane, inventor of an improved plow and the first cultivator, was also the first to invent and make the hook-headed railroad spike "which has since proved itself a most important factor in railroad building in the United States." His "cigar boat" although not a commercial success was the fore-runner of the "whale-back" steamers now in use on the Great Lakes. William Orr (1808-91), manufacturer and inventor, born in Belfast of Ulster Scot parentage, was the first to manufacture merchantable printing paper with wood fibre in it, and made several other improvements and discoveries along similar lines. Cyrus Hall McCormick (1809-84), inventor of the reaping machine, was descended from James McCormick, one of the signers of the address of the city and garrison of Londonderry presented to William III. after the siege in 1689. Of his invention the French Academy of Sciences declared that by its means he had "done more for the cause of agriculture than any other living man." James Blair (1804-84), born in Perth, Scotland, was the inventor of the roller for printing calico; and Robert M. Dalzell (1793-1873) was inventor of the "elevator system" in handling and storing grain. Samuel Colt (1814-62), inventor of the Colt revolver, and founder of the great arms factory at Hartford, Conn., was of Scots ancestry on both sides. He was also the first to lay a submarine electric cable (in 1843) connecting New York city with stations on Fire Island and Coney Island. Thomas Taylor, inventor of electric appliances for exploding powder in mining, blasting, etc., Chief of the Division of Microscopy (1871-95), was born in Perth, Scotland, in 1820. Duncan H. Campbell, born in Greenock in 1827, settled in Boston as a lad, by his numerous inventions, "pegging machines, stitching machines, a lock-stitch machine for sewing uppers, a machine for using waxed threads, a machine for covering buttons with cloth," laid the foundation of New England's pre-eminence in shoe manufacturing. Gordon McKay (1821-1903), by his inventions along similar lines also helped to build up New England's great industry. Robert Dick, (1814-93), born in Bathgate, Linlithgowshire, died in Buffalo, lecturer, newspaper editor, writer, preacher, and inventor, was inventor of the mailing machine used in nearly every newspaper office on the continent. Alexander Morton, (1820-60), the perfector if not the inventor of gold pens, was born in Darvel, Ayrshire. James Oliver, born in Roxburgh, Scotland, in 1823, made several important discoveries in connection with casting and moulding iron, was the inventor of the Oliver chilled plow, and founder of the Oliver Chilled Plow Works, South Bend, Indiana. The business established by him is now carried on in several cities from Rochester, New York State, to San Francisco, and south to Dallas, Texas. William Chisholm, born in Lochgelly, Fifeshire, in 1825, demonstrated the practicability of making screws from Bessemer steel, organized the Union Steel Company of Cleveland, (1871), and devised several new methods and machinery for manufacturing steel shovels, scoops, etc. His brother, Henry, was the first to introduce steel-making into Cleveland, and might justly be called "The Father of Cleveland." Andrew Campbell (1821-90) was the inventor of many improvements in printing machinery, and of a long series of devices comprising labor-saving machinery relating to hat manufacture, steam-engines, machinists' tools, lithographic and printing machinery, and electrical appliances. William Ezra Ferguson (b. 1832), merchant and inventor of the means of conveying grain on steam shipments without shifting, was of Scottish ancestry. Alexander Davidson (b. 1832) made many inventions in connection with the typewriter, one of the most important being the scale regarding the value of the letters of the alphabet. As an inventor he was of the front rank. Andrew Smith Hallidie (b. 1836), son of a native of Dunfermline, was the inventor of steel-wire rope making and also the inventor of the "Hallidie ropeway," which led up to the introduction of cable railroads. James Lyall (1836-1901), born in Auchterarder, invented the positive-motion shuttle (1868) which revolutionized the manufacture of cotton goods. He also invented fabrics for pneumatic tyres and fire-hose. James P. Lee, born in Roxburghshire in 1837, was inventor of the Lee magazine gun which was adopted by the United States Navy in 1895. His first weapon was a breech-loading rifle which was adopted by the United States Government during the Civil War. Later he organized the Lee Arms Company of Connecticut. The production of the telephone as a practical and now universally employed method of "annihilating time and space" in the articulate intercourse of the human race will forever be associated with the name of Alexander Graham Bell, born in Edinburgh in 1847. By its means he has promoted commerce, created new industries, and has bridged continents, all the result of "sheer hard thinking aided by unbounded genius." To Dr. Graham Bell we are also indebted for the photophone, for the inductoin balance, the telephone probe, and the gramophone. During the war he designed a "submarine chaser" capable of traveling under water at a speed of over seventy miles an hour, and he has made important experiments in the field of aeronautics and in other arts and sciences. The mother of Thomas Alva Edison (b. 1847), it may here be mentioned, was of Scottish parentage (Elliott). The originator of the duplex system in the manufacture of railroad tickets was William Harrison Campbell (1846-1906), of Scottish parentage. William Malcolm (1823-90), also of Scottish parentage, was the inventor of telescopic sights, an invention adopted by all civilized governments. His attainments were better known and appreciated in Europe than in his own country. Daniel McFarlan Moore, electrician and inventor, of Ulster Scot descent, was inventor of the Moore electric light. James Peckover, born in England of Scottish and English ancestry, invented the saw for cutting stone and a machine for cutting mouldings in marble and granite. Rear-Admiral George W. Baird (b. 1843), naval engineer, invented the distiller for making fresh water from sea water, and patented many other inventions in connection with machinery and ship ventilation. James Bennett Forsyth (b. 1850), of Scottish parentage, took out more than fifty patents on machinery and manufacturing processes connected with rubber and fire-hose. John Charles Barclay, telegraph manager, descendant of John Barclay who emigrated from Scotland in 1684, patented the printing telegraph "said to be the most important invention in the telegraph world since Edison introduced the quadruplex system." Alexander Winton, born in Grangemouth in 1860, inventor and manufacturer, successfully developed a number of improvements in steam engines for ocean going vessels, founded the Winton Motor Carriage Company in 1897, and patented a number of inventions in connection with automobile mechanism. The works of the company at Cleveland, Ohio, now cover more than thirteen acres. The first to expound and formulate the application of the law of conservation in illumination calculations was Addams Stratton McAllister (b. 1875), a descendant of Hugh McAllister, who emigrated from Scotland c. 1732. He also holds several patents for alternating-current machinery, and has written largely on electrical subjects. Richard Dudgeon (1820-99), born in Haddingtonshire, Scotland, was distinguished as a machinist, inventor of the hydraulic jack and boiler-tube expander.

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