Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
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EARLE, Pliny, inventor, born in Leicester, Massachusetts, 17 December 1762; died there, 19 November 1832. He was a descendant of Ralph Earle, who, with nineteen others, successfully petitioned Charles I., in 1638, for a charter to form themselves into a bodypolitic of Rhode Island. In 1785 he became connected with Edmund Snow in the manufacture of hand cards for carding cotton and wool, and in 1786 he established himself in the business. Among the many obstacles encountered by Samuel Slater in the introduction into the United States of the manufacture of cotton by machinery was the difficulty of procuring card clothing for his machines.
After unsuccessful applications to several other persons, he went, in 1790, to Mr. Earle, who, although it was a new and untried work, agreed to make the cards. He succeeded, but to achieve that success he was obliged to prick the holes for the teeth with two needles fastened in handle. This led him to the invention of the machine for pricking "twilled" cards, by which the labor of a man for fifteen hours could be performed in as many minutes. This machine was in general use for years, until the machine that both pricks the leather and sets the teeth superseded it. He was a member of the Society of Friends, and, apart from his inventive genius, made extensive attainments in science and literature.
His second son, Thomas Earle, lawyer, born in Leicester, Massachusetts, 21 April 1796; died in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 14 July 1849, was educated at Leicester academy° In 1817 he removed to Philadelphia, where he engaged in mercantile pursuits for a few years, but subsequently studied law and practiced his profession. He became distinguished also as a journalist, editing in succession the "Columbian Observer," "Standard," " Pennsylvanian," and "Mechanics' Free Press and Reform Advocate." In 1837 he took an active part in calling the Constitutional convention of Pennsylvania, of which he was a prominent member, and it is supposed that he made the original draft of the new constitution° He lost his popularity with the Democratic Party by advocating the extension of the right of suffrage to Negroes. He was the candidate of the liberty party for vice president in 1840, but the abolitionists, whom that party was supposed to represent, repudiated the nomination.
Mr. Earle subsequently took little part in political affairs. He devoted his time principally to literary work, and published an "Essay on Penal Law" ; an "Essay on the Rights of States to Alter and to Annul their Charters"; "Treatise on Railroads and Internal Communications" (1830) and a" Life of Benjamin Lundy." At the time of his death he was engaged in a translation of Sismondis "Italian Republics," and in the compilation of a "Grammatical Dictionary of the French and the English Languages."
Another son, Pliny Earle, physician, was born in Leicester, Massachusetts, 31 December 1809. He was graduated at the University of Pennsylvania in 1837, then studied in the hospitals of Paris, and visited institutions for the insane in European countries. In 1840 he became resident physician of the asylum for the insane at Frankford, Pennsylvania, where he remained two years. From April 1844, till April 1849, he was physician to Bloomingdale asylum, New York. He immediately afterward visited insane hospitals in Europe. In 1853 he was appointed visiting physician to the New York City lunatic asylum, and in the same year delivered a course of lectures on mental disorders at the College of physicians and surgeons, New York. In 1863 he became professor of materia medica and psychology in Berkshire medical institute in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, the first professorship of mental diseases ever established by a medical College in the United States. His lectures there were limited to the one course of 1864, owing to his appointment as superintendent and physician-in-chief of the state hospital for the insane in Northampton, Massachusetts.
He held this place until October 1885 in 1871 he visited forty-six institutions for the insane in Europe. Dr. Earle was, so far as known, the first person that ever addressed an audience of the insane in any other than a religious discourse. His introduction of lectures on natural philosophy at the Frankford asylum, in the winter of 1840'41, was the initiative to a system of combined instruction and entertainment, which has been widely adopted, and is now considered essential to the highest perfection of an institution for the insane. In the winter of 1866'7, at the hospital in Northampton, he delivered a course of lectures on insanity before audiences in which the average number of insane persons was about 250. His annual reports during the last ten years of his superintendence at Northampton hospital contain a series of articles on the curability of insanity, which have been published in book form, entitled "The Curability of Insanity; a Series of Studies" (Philadelphia, 1887). Dr. Earle was one of the founders of the American medical association, the New York academy of medicine, the Association of medical superintendents of American institutions for the insane, and the New England psychological society, and has been president of the two last named. He has published "A Visit to Thirteen Asylums for the Insane in Europe" (Philadelphia, 1840); "The History, Description, and Statistics of the Bloomingdale Asylum" (New York, 1848); "Institutions for the Insane in Prussia, Germany, and Austria" (New York, 1853); and "An Examination of the Practice of Bloodletting in Mental Disorders" (New York, 1854), besides frequent contributions to medical periodical literature. He has published "Marathon and other Poems" (Philadelphia, 1841).
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