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William Morrison   1850-1927

By Carl Burgess Glasscock

William Morrison of Des Moines, Iowa, is credited with building the first successful battery-powered electric automobile in America. Scottish born, and arriving in Des Moines, Iowa in 1880, Morrison’s chief interest was batteries. His car was first run in 1891, and in 1892 it caused a sensation when it was demonstrated in Chicago: “Ever since its arrival it has attracted the greatest attention,” the Western Electrician reported in its issue of September 17, 1892. “The sight of a well loaded carriage moving along the streets at a spanking pace, with no horses in front, and apparently with nothing on board to give it motion, was one that has been too much, even for the wide awake Chicagoan. In passing through the business section, way had to be cleared by the police for the passage of the carriage.” Morrison secured financial independence when he sold his battery company to the Willard Battery Company of Philadelphia.

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