U.S. Patent Office Lincoln’s Patent "The patent system . . . secured to the inventor, for a limited time, the exclusive use of his invention; and thereby added the fuel of interest to the fire of genius, in the discovery and production of new and useful things." — Abraham Lincoln, Second Lecture on Discoveries and Inventions, Jacksonville, Illinois, February 11, 1859. All creation is a mine, and every man a miner. The whole earth, and all within it, upon it, and round about it, including himself … are the infinitely various 'leads' from which, man, from the first, was to dig out his destiny. — Abraham Lincoln Opening sentences of lecture 'Discoveries and Inventions', (1860) In the world's history certain inventions and discoveries occurred of peculiar value, on account of their great efficiency in facilitating all other inventions and discoveries. Of these were the art of writing and of printing, the discovery of America, and the introduction of patent laws. The date of the first ... is unknown; but it certainly was as much as fifteen hundred years before the Christian era; the second—printing—came in 1436, or nearly three thousand years after the first. The others followed more rapidly—the discovery of America in 1492, and the first patent laws in 1624. — Abraham Lincoln Excerpt from the Lincoln Lecture 'Discoveries, Inventions and Improvements' Next came the patent laws. These began in England in 1624, and in this country with the adoption of our Constitution. Before then any man [might] instantly use what another man had invented, so that the inventor had no special advantage from his own invention. The patent system changed this, secured to the inventor for a limited time exclusive use of his inventions, and thereby added the fuel of interest to the fire of genius in the discovery and production of new and useful things. — Abraham Lincoln Lecture 'Discoveries, Inventions and Improvements' (22 Feb 1860) in John George Nicolay and John Hay (eds.), Complete Works of Abraham Lincoln (1894), Of all the forces of nature, I should think the wind contains the largest amount of motive power—that is, power to move things. Take any given space of the earth's surface— for instance, Illinois; and all the power exerted by all the men, and beasts, and running-water, and steam, over and upon it, shall not equal the one hundredth part of what is exerted by the blowing of the wind over and upon the same space. And yet it has not, so far in the world's history, become proportionally valuable as a motive power. It is applied extensively, and advantageously, to sail-vessels in navigation. Add to this a few windmills, and pumps, and you have about all. ... As yet, the wind is an untamed, and unharnessed force; and quite possibly one of the greatest discoveries hereafter to be made, will be the taming, and harnessing of it. — Abraham Lincoln Lecture 'Discoveries and Inventions', (1860) in Discoveries and Inventions (1915).
Lincoln the Scientist?
After receiving what claimed to be a more powerful type of gunpowder, Abraham Lincoln put it to the test. He wrapped some gunpowder paper and placed a live coal on it. After the sample quite burning, he stated, “There is too much left there.” He was very disappointed about the results of his experiment. Source: Browne, 502
The Crazy Nature of New Inventions
Abraham Lincoln was almost blown up in November of 1862. Little advance testing of new weapons occurred before the weapon demonstrations. The new innovation Lincoln was witnessing was a rocket. The rocket did not make it off the ground and blew up showering shrapnel on several people including Lincoln. Even though these “lunatics and visionaries” were creating some really good ideas, the ideas did not always translate to a “new and useful” weapon.