Born in Beaver Pennsylvania. He studied law, was admitted to the bar and practiced law. He operated a tannery and manufactured hats.
Allison was elected to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in 1846, 1847 and 1849. He was elected to the U. S. House of Representatives and served 1851 to 1853 and again 1855 to 1857. He served as a delegate to the Republican National Convention in 1856 and 1860. At the 1856 convention he placed the name of Abraham Lincoln in nomination for vice president.
Served as Register of the Treasury April 3, 1869, to March 23, 1878. His signature appears on paper money issued during that period. He died in office in Washington, D.C.
bio: BDC; TCBDA (states DOD in 1873); WWWA-HSource credit: Pete Smith, American Numismatic Biographies