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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/124

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

8, 1843, in a commission-house for the sale of domestic cotton goods. In 1848 he entered the service of manufacturing companies, and from that date until 1878 was engaged as treasurer or manager of factory corporations. In 1878 he became President of the Boston Manufacturers' Mutual Fire-insurance Company, and has since devoted his time largely to the study of the prevention of fire in factories.

In one of his essays he says that he first began to think in the Free-Soil campaign of 1848; that he then despised statistics, and was under the profound conviction that every advocate of free trade had a cloven foot. He held to these opinions until about the beginning of the war. Being prevented from entering the service by home duties, he devoted himself to the study of the resources of the United States, and from the study of facts rather than of books, and from his long experience, he became an advocate of hard money, opposed to the Legal-Tender Act, and in 1866 he also became a convert to free trade, subject in its application to such consideration as might rightly be given to branches of industry whose course had been somewhat altered by the long continuance of the protective system.

Besides his studies in economic science, and above them, according to his own estimation, Mr. Atkinson is the inventor of a form of cooking apparatus by which the process of preparing food is greatly facilitated, while the quality of the product is certain to be improved. It comprises two ovens, one heated by a column of water, the other heated by a column of air, the heat being derived from common kerosene-oil lamps so arranged that the products of the combustion of the oil can not touch the food. Having baked twenty pounds of bread in one oven with one cent's worth of oil, and being able either to simmer in one vessel or to roast in the hot-air oven thirty pounds of meat at a cost of not exceeding two cents' worth of oil, he believes that he has accomplished economy in domestic cookery in a way which Count Rumford attempted but failed to make popular, but which might become the common practice of all, now that kerosene-oil yields a cheap source of heat. These inventions are not patented, but are purposely left open for public use.

By his connection with an association of New England mill-owners, for prevention of fires in their factories and for insurance, he has been instrumental in raising the profession of underwriter from a mere system of betting on the chances of loss by fire on property, as it may happen to be at any given time, to one in which science shall be applied at every point, both in the construction and occupation of buildings, and to the prevention of such losses, under the direction and instruction of capable officers of insurance companies, who will consider every loss by fire an