Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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PHELPS, Abner, physician, born in Belchertown, Massachusetts, 5 September, 1779 ; died in Boston, Massachusetts, 24 February, 1873. He was graduated at Williams in 1806, and at the medical departments of Brown in 1813 and Yale in 1814. After practising for several years in Reading, Massachusetts, he removed to Boston in 1816. While in college he read an account of the railways in the quarries in Wales that led him to believe that such roads were practicable for common travel. As early as 1808 he endeavored to bring a proposition before the legislature for building a railroad between Boston and Albany, but the suggestion was not acted upon, and in 1826, while he was a member of the house, he made the first motion of that character that was offered before a legislative body in the United States. Having prepared an able report, he secured the appointment of commissioners, and the undertaking of surveys, and much of the construction was done under his personal supervision and at his expense. He published " The Crucifixion of Christ, anatomically Considered" (Boston, 1853).
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