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Historic Figures

Oliver Evans
1755-1819: Inventor, manufacturer; born near Newport, Del. Self-taught, a natural mechanic, he invented a high-speed machine for carding wool in 1777. By 1785, despite a chronic shortage of funds, he had designed and built automatic machinery that made it possible to mill grain in one continuous process. He became America's first steam engine builder, improving on James Watt's invention with several advanced models, including an amphibious steam-powered dredging machine (1804), America's first self-propelled land vehicle. In 1807 he established the Mars Iron Works; at the time of his death, the company had produced some 50 steam engines.
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Henry Heimlich
1920-Present: Physician; born in Wilmington, Del. While a New York City thoracic surgeon (1950-69), he developed a procedure to reconstruct the esophagus, followed by the Heimlich valve to help chest drainage. Moving to Cincinnati, Ohio, he devised the antichoking "Heimlich maneuver" in 1974. He wrote Dr Heimlich's Home Guide to Emergency Medical Situations (1981).
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Caesar Rodney
1728-84: Patriot, statesman; born in Dover, Del. He served in Delaware's provincial assembly from 1761 to 1776 with only one break, in 1771. A member of the Continental Congress (1774-76), he rode 80 miles on horseback and arrived in Philadelphia on July 2, 1776, just in time to cast a decisive vote in favor of Richard Henry Lee's resolution on American independence. He signed the Declaration of Independence, served again in the Continental Congress (1777-78), and was president (governor) of Delaware (1778-81). Delaware placed his statue in the U.S. Capitol.
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Henry S. Canby
1878-1961: Editor and writer, born in Wilmington, Delaware, USA. A teacher of English at Yale University for over 20 years, he helped found the Saturday Review of Literature and as its first editor (1924-36) made it into a top literary magazine; he also wrote literary biographies and criticism, and a three-volume autobiography.
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Richard Allen
1760-1831: Methodist minister and church founder, born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. Born a slave, he was sold as a child to a farmer in Delaware. He converted to Methodism as a young man and then converted his owner, who allowed Allen to obtain his freedom. While working at odd jobs, he educated himself and traveled throughout the mid-Atlantic state preaching. By 1874 he was accepted as a Methodist preacher and he returned to Philadelphia to preach (1786-7). After an incident in which white parishioners forced the African-Americans present to segregate themselves, Allen led his black parishioners to form a Free African Society (1787). In 1794 he established a separate Methodist church for African-Americans. In 1816 a number of independent black Methodist churches around the Northeast came together to form the African Methodist Episcopal Church; Allen was ordained its first bishop (April 11, 1816) and led it until his death as it expanded not only as a religious force but also in civil and social activism. This has often been called one of the most enduring institutions ever organized by African-Americans. Allen himself was a strong patriot, even supporting the War of 1812, and he denounced the notion of sending African-Americans to colonize in Africa.
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