Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Blake, Eli Whitney

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Edition of 1900. See also Eli Whitney Blake and Eli Whitney Blake, Jr. on Wikipedia, and our Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography disclaimer. Two words have been inserted from the 1891 edition into the son's biography.

BLAKE, Eli Whitney, inventor, b. in Westborough, Mass., 27 Jan., 1795; d. in New Haven, Conn., 18 Aug., 1886. He studied at Leicester (Mass.) Academy, and was graduated at Yale in 1816, after which he studied law with Judge Gould in Litchfield, Conn. But this he soon abandoned at the request of his uncle, Eli Whitney, who desired his assistance in erecting and organizing the gun-factory at Whitneyville. Here he made important improvements in the machinery and in the processes of manufacturing arms. On the death of Mr. Whitney in 1825 he associated with himself his brother Philos, and continued to manage the business. In 1836 they were joined by another brother, John A., and, under the firm-name of Blake Brothers, established at Westville a factory for the production of door-locks and latches of their own invention. The business was afterward extended so as to include casters, hinges, and other articles of hardware, most of which were covered by patents. In this branch of manufacture, Blake Brothers were among the pioneers, and long held the front rank. The ideas that they originated still characterize the forms of American locks, latches, casters, hinges, and other articles of house-furnishing hardware wherever manufactured. In 1852 Mr. Blake was appointed to superintend the macadamizing of the city streets, and his attention was directed to the want of a proper machine for breaking stone. This problem he solved in 1857 by the invention of the Blake stone-breaker, which, for originality, simplicity, and effectiveness, has justly been regarded by experts as unique. This crusher is now used in all parts of the world for breaking ores, road metal, and similar purposes. Mr. Blake was one of the founders, and for several years president, of the Connecticut Academy of Science. He contributed valuable papers to the “American Journal of Science” and other periodicals, the most important of which he published in a single volume as “Original Solutions of Several Problems in Aërodynamics” (1882). — His son, Eli Whitney, b. in New Haven, 20 April, 1836; d. in Hampton, Conn., 1 Oct., 1895, was graduated at Yale in 1857, and at Sheffield Scientific School, after which he studied chemistry and physics in the Universities of Heidelberg, Marburg, and Berlin. Prof. Blake was professor of chemistry in the University of Vermont (1867); professor of physics at Cornell (1868-'70); acting professor of physics at Columbia (1868-'9); and professor of physics at Brown (1870-'86). He was a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a member of other scientific bodies, to whose proceedings he frequently contributed valuable papers.