Howe, Elias, 1819–67, American inventor, b. Spencer, Mass. He was apprenticed in 1838 to an instrument maker and watchmaker in Boston at whose suggestion he turned his attention to devising a sewing machine. He exhibited his first machine in 1845 and patented another in 1846. No financial backing was secured in the United States, and in 1846 a third machine was sold in England, together with all rights in Great Britain, to William Thomas. Howe worked with Thomas in London to produce a machine to stitch leather. After a breach between the two, Howe returned to the United States to find his machine being manufactured by others. He brought several suits (including one against Isaac M. Singer ) for infringement of patent and finally obtained a judgment for royalty in 1854. With the royalties earned through an extension of his patent (1861–67), he supported during the Civil War an infantry regiment in which he served as a private and in 1865 established in Bridgeport, Conn., the Howe Machine Company.
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