Sketches of Students of First
HON. GEORGE W. ALLEN was the son of Rufus W. Allen, who was at one period a trustee and steward of the Seminary. He was a student at the Seminary in 1828. His father was a tanner; and, to use his own words at a banquet given him in Boston, "he was born in a tan-vat, and brought up on a bark pile." He entered Wesleyan University in 1838, and graduated at Union College in 1841. Read law for a season, and entered into business with his father in 1842. About this period he began to meddle with politics, and to lecture before lyceums, etc. He was a good debater. A speech delivered against "Political Abolitionism " in presence of Gerrit Smith, drew from the latter a challenge to Mr. Allen to meet him in public debate upon that question. The challenge was accepted, and though Mr. Allen was but one year from school, and Mr. Smith was a mature champion, the general public sentiment was that Mr. Smith was second in the contest.
In 1847 Mr. Allen married a niece of Chief-Justice Savage, of New York. In connection with his father and brother he established a general leather business in Milwaukee, where he still resides and prosecutes the same business. Rufus Allen, the father of George, was a man of rare commercial integrity, as well as of capacity. He died in 1873, having been in business sixty-three years, and never having compounded with his creditors, or had a note go to protest. His sons have prosecuted and greatly extended their business, and it is said that no man in the country has rendered so much public service to the leather interest as Mr. Allen. He has never had a public office. Though repeatedly urged to become mayor of his city, he has always declined. The term "Honorable" has for many years been prefixed to his name by newspaper writers and others, and his western friends say, jokingly, that it is done for the reason that he has declined so many offices, which some consider more honorable than the acceptance of them.
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