( Originally Published 1913 )
IT is a curious fact that the men to whom the world owes most generally get the least reward. The genius in art or letters is seldom recognized as such until long after he himself has passed away—his life is usually embittered by derision or neglect. But, in the history of civilization, the lot of no man has been harder or more thankless than that of the inventor. Poverty and want have always been his portion, and even after he had won his triumph, had compelled public recognition of some great invention, it was usually some one else who won the reward.
America has been especially strong in the field of invention. Indeed, practically all the great labor-saving devices of the past century and more have originated here. " Yankee ingenuity " has passed into a proverb, and a true one, for the country which has produced the steamboat, the cotton gin, the sewing machine, the electric telegraph, the phonograph, the telephone, the typewriter, the reaper and binder, to mention only a few of the achievements of American inventors, may surely claim first place in this respect among the nations of the world. There are few stories more inspiring than that of American invention, and as benefactors to their race, the long line of American inventors may rightly rank before even the great philanthropists whose careers are outlined elsewhere in this volume. Indeed, if we judge greatness by the benefits which a man confers upon man-kind, such men as Whitney and Howe and Morse and Bell and Edison far surpass most of the great characters of history.
First of the line is Benjamin Franklin, whose many-sided genius gives him a unique place in American history. His career has been considered in the chapter dealing with our statesmen, but let us pause for a moment here to speak of his inventions. One of them, the Franklin stove, is still in use in hundreds of old houses, and as an economizer of fuel has never been surpassed; another was the lightning-rod. He introduced the basket willow, the water-tight compartment for ships, the culture of silk, the use of white clothing in hot weather, and the use of oil to quiet a tempest-tossed sea. From none of his inventions did he seek to get any return. The Governor of Pennsylvania offered to give him a monopoly of the sale of the Franklin stove for a period of years, but he declined it, saying, " That, as we enjoy great advantages from the inventions of others, we should be glad to serve others by any invention of ours " — a principle characteristic of Franklin's whole philosophy of life.
After Franklin, came Robert Fulton, the first man successfully to apply the power of the steam-engine to the propulsion of boats. Everyone has heard the story of how, years before, the youthful James Watt first got his idea of the power of steam by noticing how it rattled the lid on his mother's boiling tea-kettle. From that came the stationary engine, and from that the engine as applied to the locomotive. It remained for Fulton to apply it to water navigation.
Born in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, of Irish parents, in poor circumstances, the boy received only the rudiments of an education, but developed a surprising talent for painting, so that, when he was seventeen, he removed to Philadelphia and set up there as an artist, painting portraits and landscapes. He remained there for some years, and finally, having made enough money to purchase a small farm for his mother, sailed for London, where he introduced himself to that amiable patron of all American painters, Benjamin West. West, who was at that time at the height of his fame, received Fulton with great kindness, and made a place in his house for him, where he remained for several years.
Those years were not devoted exclusively to painting, for Fulton had developed an interest in mechanics, secured a patent for an improvement in canal locks, invented a " plunging" boat, a kind of sub-marine, a machine for spinning flax, one for making ropes, one for sawing marble, and many others of minor importance. Finally abandoning art altogether, he went to Paris, where he spent seven years with the family of Joel Barlow, conducting with him a number of experiments ; one series of which has developed into the modern submarine torpedo. He succeeded in interesting the French government in his submarine experiments and constructed a boat equipped with a small engine, with which, in the harbor of Brest, he seems actually to have made some progress under water, remaining under on one occasion for more than four hours. But the French government finally withdrew its support, and finding the British government also indifferent, Fulton sailed for New York in December, 1806.
Here, he succeeded in interesting the United States government; which granted him $5,000 to continue his submarine experiments, but interest in them soon waned, and Fulton turned his whole attention to the subject of steam navigation. He had been experimenting in this direction for a number of years, and, in conjunction with Chancellor Livingston, of New Jersey, had secured from the legislature of New York the exclusive right and privilege of navigating all kinds of boats which might be propelled by the force of fire or steam on all the waters within the territory of New York for a period of twenty years, provided he would, by the end of 1807, produce a boat that would attain a speed of four miles an hour. Fulton went to work at once, the experiments being paid for by Livingston, and after various calculations, discarded the use of paddles or oars, of ducks' feet which open as they are pushed out and close as they are drawn in, and also the idea of forcing water out of the stern of the vessel. He finally decided on the paddle-wheel, and, in August, 1807, the first American steamboat appeared on the East River. A great concourse witnessed the first trial, incredulous at first, but converted into enthusiastic believers before the boat had gone a quarter of a mile.
She was christened the " Clermont," and soon after-wards made a trip up the Hudson to Albany, to the astonishment of the people living along the banks of that mighty river. The distance of 150 miles, against the current of the river, was covered in thirty-two hours, and there could no longer be any question of Fulton's success. A regular schedule between Albany and New York was established, and the " Clermont " began that great river traffic now carried on by the most palatial river steamers in the world.
After that, it was merely a question of development. More boats were built, improvements were made, and every year witnessed an increase of speed and efficiency. In 1814, in the midst of the second war with England, Fulton built the first steam shipof-war the world had ever seen, designed for the defense of New York harbor. This ancestor of the modern "Dreadnought " was named "Fulton the First" in honor of her designer. She indirectly caused his death, for, exposing himself for several hours of a bitter- winter day, in supervising some changes on her, he developed pneumonia and died a few days later. Could he re-visit the world to-day and see the wonderful and mighty ships which have grown out of his idea, he would no doubt be as astonished as were the people along the Hudson on that fall day in 1807 when they saw the " Clermont " making her way up the stream against wind and tide.
The same year that Robert Fulton was born, an-other inventive genius first saw the light in the little town of Westborough, Massachusetts. His name was Eli Whitney, and the work he was to do revolutionized the industrial development of the South, paid off its debts, and trebled the value of its lands. It did something else, too, which was to fasten upon the South the system of negro slavery, resulting in the Civil War. But though he added hundreds of millions of dollars to the wealth of his country, his own reward was neglect, indifference, countless law-suits and endless vexation of body and spirit.
Whitney's father ran a little wood-working shop where he made wheels and chairs, and there the boy, spent every possible hour. At the age of twelve, he made himself a violin, and his progress was so steady, that by the time he was sixteen, he had greatly enlarged the business and had gained the reputation of being the best mechanic in all the country round. He soon discovered the value of education, and managed to prepare himself for Yale College, which he entered in 1789, at the age of twenty-four —an age at which most men had long since graduated and settled in life. But Whitney persevered, graduating in 1792, and almost immediately securing a position as private tutor in a Georgia family, which was to change the whole course of his life.
Until he reached the South, he had never seen raw cotton, only a little of which, indeed, had been raised in the United States. It had not been profitable be-cause of the difficulty of picking out the green cotton-seed. To separate one pound of the staple from the seed was a day's work, so that cotton was considered rather as a curiosity than as a profitable crop. Whitney was impressed by the possibilities of cotton culture, could this obstacle be overcome, and devoted his spare time to the construction of the machine upon which his fame rests. At last it was done, and did its work so perfectly that there could be no question of its success. Experiments showed that with it, one man, with the aid of two-horse power, could clean five thousand pounds of cotton a day!
A patent was at once applied for and every effort made to keep the invention a secret until a patent had been secured. But knowledge of it swept through the state, and great crowds of people came to see the machine. Whitney refused to show it, and after much excitement, a mob one night broke into the building where it was, and carried it away. Others were at once made, using it as a model, and by the time Whitney had secured his patent, they were in successful operation in many parts of the state.
That was the beginning of Whitney's trials. He had not enough money to produce machines rapidly enough to meet the tremendous demand for them, and various rivals sprang up, some of them even claiming the honor of the invention. Other gins were put on the market, differing from Whitney's only in some unimportant detail, and plainly an infringement of his patent ; but he had not the means to prosecute their manufacturers. The result was, that after two years of disheartening struggle, Whitney was reduced to bankruptcy.
The attitude of the South toward him caused him especial distress. " I have invented a machine," he wrote, " from which the citizens of the South have already realized immense profits, which is worth to them millions, and from which they must continue to derive the most important profits, and in return to be treated as a felon, a swindler, and a villain, has stung me to the very soul. And when I consider that this cruel persecution is inflicted by the very persons who are enjoying these great benefits, and expressly for the purpose of preventing my ever deriving the least advantage from my labors, the acuteness of my feelings is altogether inexpressible."
Finally, the states of North and South Carolina voted him a royalty upon all the machines in use, and this enabled him to pay his debts; but Whitney at last abandoned hope of ever receiving from his invention the returns he had' hoped for, and, turning his attention to other business, received, in 1798, a contract from the United States government for 10,000 stand of arms. Eight years were consumed in filling this contract. A contract for 30,000 stand followed, and so many improvements in design and process of manufacture were made by Whitney that no other manufacturer could compete with him.
The result of all this was that Whitney was enabled to end his life in comparative independence. His last days were his happiest, and he found in the care and affection of a loving family some consolation for the injustice and ingratitude which he had suffered.
Sixteen years after the battle of Bunker Hill, a boy was born in a great frame house at the foot of Breed's Hill, upon which that famous and misnamed battle was really fought. The boy's father was a preacher named Jedediah Morse, and the boy was named Samuel Finley, after his maternal great grand-father, the renowned president of Princeton College, and Breese, after his mother's maiden name, so that he comes down through history as S. F. B. Morse. He received a thorough schooling, graduating from Yale in 1807, and at once turned his attention to art. We have already spoken of his achievements in that respect, which were really of the first importance. He was an artist, heart and soul, but the whole course of his life was to be changed in a remarkable fashion.
In the autumn of 1832, Morse, being at that time forty-one years of age, sailed from Havre for New York in the ship Sully. It happened that there were on board some scientists who had been interested in electrical development, and the talk one evening turned on electricity. Morse knew little about it, except what he had learned in a few lectures heard at Yale; but when somebody asked how long it took a current of electricity to pass through a wire, and when the answer was that the passage was instantaneous, his interest was aroused.
" If that is the case," he said, " and if the passage of the current can be made visible or audible, there is no reason why intelligence cannot be transmitted instantaneously by electricity."
The company broke up, after a while, but Morse,. filled with his great idea, went on deck, and at the end of an hour had jotted down in his notebook the first skeleton of the " Morse alphabet." Before he reached New York, he had made drawings and specifications of his invention, which he seems to have grasped clearly and completely from the first, although its details were worked out only by laborious. thought It was necessary for him to earn a living, and not until three years later was the first rude instrument completed. Two years more, and he had a short line in operation, but it was looked upon as a. scientific toy constructed by an unfortunate dreamer. Finally, in 1838, Morse appeared before Congress, exhibited his invention and asked aid to construct an experimental line between Washington and Baltimore. He was laughed at, and for twelve years an. extraordinary struggle ensued, Morse laboring to. convince the world of the value of his invention, and the world scoffing at him. His own situation was forlorn in the extreme; for his painting was his only means of livelihood, and, absorbed as he was by his great invention, he found painting utterly impossible. His home was a single room in the fifth story of a building at the corner of Nassau and Beekman streets in New York City—a room which served as studio, workshop, parlor, kitchen and bedroom. There he labored and slept, using such money as he could earn for his experiments, and almost starving him-self in consequence.
But at last the tide turned. He was appointed to a position in the University of the City of New York, which provided him with better means for experiment, and in 1843, again appeared before Congress. This time, he found some backers, and by a close vote, at the last hour of the session, an appropriation of $30,000 was made to enable him to construct a line between Washington and Baltimore. Wild with delight and enthusiasm, the inventor went to work, and on the twenty-fourth day of May, 1844, the first message flashed over the wire, " What hath God wrought! "
The wonder and amazement of the public can be better imagined than described. Morse offered to sell his invention to the government for the sum of $100,000, but the Postmaster General, a thick-headed individual named Cave Johnson, refused the offer, stating that in his opinion, no line would ever pay for the cost of operation !
It was inevitable that rival claimants for the honor of the invention should crop up on every side, but, after years of bitter litigation, Morse succeeded in defending his title, and honors began to pour in upon/ him. It is worth remarking that the Sultan of Turan key, supposedly the most benighted of all rulers, was the first monarch to acknowledge Morse as a public benefactor. That was in 1848 ; but the monarchs of Europe soon followed, and in 1858, a special congress was called by the Emperor of the French to devise some suitable testimonial to the great inventor. But perhaps the most fitting testimonial of all were the ceremonies at the unveiling of the Morse monument in New York City in 1871. Delegates were present from every state in the Union, and at the close of the reception, William Orton, president of the Western Union Telegraph Company, announced that the telegraph instrument before the audience was in connection with every other one of the ten thousand instruments in America, and that, beside every instrument an operator was waiting to receive a message. Then a young operator sent this message from the key : " Greeting and thanks to the telegraph fraternity throughout the world. Glory to God in the highest ; on earth, peace, good-will to men." Then the venerable inventor, the personification of dignity, simplicity and kindliness, bent above the key, and sent out, " S. F. B. Morse." A storm of enthusiasm swept over the audience, and the scene will never be forgotten by any who took part in it. The proudest boast of many an old operator is that he received that message. Death came to the inventor a year later, and on the day of his funeral, every telegraph office throughout the land was draped in mourning.
Although to Morse belongs all the credit for the invention of the telegraph, it should, in justice to one man, be pointed out that it would have been impossible but for a discovery which preceded it—that of the electromagnet. To Joseph Henry, the great physicist, first of Princeton, then of the Smithsonian Institution, this invention is chiefly due. We have already spoken of Professor Henry's work in science, but none of it was more important than his invention, in 1828, of the modern form of electromagnet —a coil of silk-covered wire wound in a series of crossed layers around a soft iron core, and in 1831, he had used it to produce the ringing of a bell at a distance. It is this magnet which forms the basis of every telegraph instrument—is essential to it, and is the foundation of the entire electrical art. Let it be added to this great scientist's credit that he never sought to patent any of his inventions, giving them, as Franklin had done, free to all the world.
The struggle which Morse made to perfect and secure public recognition of his telegraph and the injustice shown Eli Whitney by the people of the South, were as nothing when compared with the trials of that most unfortunate of all inventors, Charles Goodyear, whose story is one of the most tragic in American annals. No one can read of his struggles without experiencing the deepest admiration for a man who, at the time, was regarded as a hopeless lunatic.
Charles Goodyear was born at New Haven, Connecticut, in 1800. While he was still a child, his father moved to Philadelphia and engaged in the hardware business, in which his son joined him, as soon as he was old enough to do so. But the panic of 1836 wiped the business out of existence, and Goodyear was forced to look around for some other means of livelihood. He had been interested for some time in the wonderful success of some newly-established India-rubber companies, and, out of curiosity, bought an India-rubber life-preserver. Upon examining it, he found a defect in the valve, and in-venting an improvement in it, he went to New York with the intention of selling his improvement to the manufacturer. The manufacturer was impressed with the new device, but told Goodyear frankly that the whole India-rubber business of the country was on the verge of collapse, and indeed, the collapse came a few months later.
The trouble was that the goods which the rubber companies had been turning out were not durable. The use of rubber had begun about fifteen years be-fore, first in France in the manufacture of garters and suspenders, and then in England where a manufacturer named Mackintosh made water-proof coats by spreading a layer of rubber between two layers of cloth. Then, in 1833, the Roxbury India-Rubber Company was organized in the United States, and manufactured an India-rubber cloth from which wagon-covers, caps, coats, and other articles were made. Its success was so great that other companies were organized and seemed on the highroad to fortune, when a sudden reverse came. For the heat of summer melted wagon-covers, caps and coats to sticky masses with an odor so offensive that they had to be buried. So the business collapsed, the various companies went into bankruptcy, and the very name of India-rubber came to be detested by producers and consumers alike.
It was at this time that Charles Goodyear appeared upon the scene—unfortunately enough for himself, but fortunately for humanity—and determined to discover some method by which rubber could be made to withstand the extremes of heat and cold. From that time until the close of his life, he devoted himself wholly to this work, in the face of such hardships and discouragements as few other men have ever experienced. He began his experiments at once, and finally hit upon magnesia as a substance which, mixed with rubber, seemed to give it lasting properties; but a month later, the mixture began to ferment and became as hard and brittle as glass.
His stock of money was soon exhausted, his own valuables, and even the trinkets of his wife were pawned, but Goodyear never for an instant thought of giving up the problem which he had set himself to solve. Again he believed he had discovered the secret by boiling the solution of rubber and magnesia is quicklime and water, when he found to his dismay that a drop of the weakest acid, such as the juice of an apple, would reduce an apparently fine sheet of rubber to a sticky mass. The first real step in the right direction was made by accident, for, in removing some bronzing from a piece of rubber with aqua fortis, he found that the chemical worked a remarkable change in the rubber, which would now stand a degree of heat that would have melted it before. He called this " curing " India-rubber, and after careful tests, patented the process, secured a partner with capital, rented an old India-rubber works on Staten Island, and set to work, full of hope. But commercial disaster swept away his partner's fortune, and Goodyear could find no one else who would risk his money in so doubtful an enterprise.
Indeed, in all America he seemed to be the only man who had the slightest hope of accomplishing anything with India-rubber. His friends regarded him as a lunatic, and especially when he made him-self a suit of clothes out of his India-rubber cloth, and wore it on all occasions. One day a man looking for Goodyear asked one of the latter's friends how he would recognize him if he met him.
" If you see a man with an India-rubber coat on," was the reply, " India-rubber shoes, India-rubber hat, and in his pocket an India-rubber purse with not a cent in it, that's Goodyear."
The description was a good one, for that purse had been without a cent in it for a long time. It was to stay empty for some weary years longer. For he had not yet discovered the secret of making India-rubber permanent, as he found when he tried to fill a contract for a hundred and fifty mail bags ordered by the government. The bags were apparently perfect, but in less than a month began to soften and ferment and were thrown back on his hands. All his property was seized and sold for debt; his family was reduced to the point of starvation, and friends, relatives and even his wife joined in demanding that he abandon this useless quest.
Goodyear was in despair, for he had just made another discovery that seemed to promise success—the discovery that sulphur was the active "curing " agent for India-rubber, and that it was the sulphuric acid in aqua fortis which had wrought the changes in rubber which he had noticed in his experiments. One day, while explaining the properties of a sulphur-cured piece of rubber to an incredulous crowd in a country-store, he happened to let it fall on the red-hot stove. To his amazement it did not melt; it had shrivelled some, but had not softened. And, at last, he had the key, which was that rubber mixed with sulphur and subjected to a certain degree of heat, would be rendered impervious to any extremes of temperature !
But what degree of heat? He experimented in the oven of his wife's cooking-stove, and in every other kind of oven to which he could gain access; he induced a brick-layer to make him an oven, paying him in rubber aprons ; he grew yellow and shrivelled, for he and his family were living upon the charity of neighbors; more than once, there was not a morsel of food in the house; his friends thought seriously of shutting him up in an asylum; he tried to get to New York, but was arrested for debt, and thrown into prison. Even in prison, he tried to interest men with capital in his discovery, for he needed delicate and expensive apparatus, and at last two brothers, William and Emory Rider agreed to advance him a certain sum. The laboratory was built, and in 1844, Goodyear astonished the world by producing perfect vulcanized India-rubber with economy and certainty, The long and desperate battle had been won !
Did he reap a fortune ? By no means ! In one way or another, he was defrauded of his patent rights. In England, for instance, another man who received a copy of the American patent, actually applied for and obtained the English rights in his own name. In 1858, the United States Commissioner of Patents said, " No inventor, probably, has ever been so harassed, so trampled upon, so plundered by that sordid and licentious class of infringers known in the parlance of the world as ` pirates.' " Worn out with work and disappointment, Goodyear died two years later, a bankrupt. But his story should be remembered, and his memory honored, by every American.
Near a little mountain hamlet of central Sweden stands a great pyramid of iron cast from ore dug from the neighboring mountains. It is set up on a base of granite also quarried from. those mountains, and bears upon it two names, Nils Ericsson and John Ericsson. The monument marks the place where these two men were born. The life of the former was passed in Sweden and does not concern us, but John Ericsson's name is closely connected with the history of the United States.
He was the son of a poor miner, and one of his earliest recollections was of the sheriff coming to take away all their household goods in payment of a debt. He was put to work in the iron mines as soon as he was able to earn a few pennies daily, and he soon developed a remarkable aptitude for mechanics. At the age of eleven, he planned a pumping engine to keep the mines free from water, and at the age of twelve, was made a member of the surveying party in charge of the construction of the Gotha ship canal, and was soon himself in charge of a section of the work, with six hundred men under him, one of whom was detailed to follow him with a stool, upon which he stood to use the surveying instruments. It reminds one of Farragut commanding a war ship, at the age of eleven.
In 1826, at the age of twenty-three, he went to England to introduce a flame or gas-engine which he had invented. He remained there for eleven years, and then a fortunate chance won him for the United States. He had been experimenting with a screw or propeller for steamboats, instead of the paddle-wheels as used by Fulton, and finally, equipping a small boat with two propellers, offered the invention to the British admiralty. But the admiralty was skeptical. The United States consul in. Liverpool happened to be Francis B. Ogden, a pioneer in steam navigation on the Ohio river. He was impressed with Ericsson's invention, introduced him to Robert F. Stockton, of the United States navy, and on their assurance that the invention would be taken up in the United States, closed up his affairs in England and sailed for this country.
His first experiment was disastrous—though through no fault of his. A ship-of-war called the Princeton was ordered by the government and completed. She embodied, besides screw propellers, many other features which made her a nine days' wonder. A distinguished company boarded her for her trial trip, and it was decided also to test her big guns. But at the first discharge, the gun burst, killing the secretary of state, the secretary of the navy, the captain of the ship, and a number of other well known men. As a consequence, the experiment was stopped and Ericsson was twelve years in securing from the government the $15,000 he had spent in equipping the Princeton.
However, he was soon to render the country a service which will never be forgotten. In 1861, he appeared before the navy department with a plan for an iron-clad consisting of a revolving turret mounted upon an armored raft. He secured an order for one such vessel, to be paid for only in the event that it proved successful. The majority of the board which gave the order doubtless laughed in their sleeves as the inventor withdrew, for what chance of success had such a vessel? There were some who even doubted whether she would float—among them her builders, who took the precaution of placing buoys under her before they launched her four months later.
Of the voyage of the little craft from New York to Hampton Roads, and of her epoch-making battle with the Merrimac we have already told. Ericsson had asked that she be named the " Monitor," as a warning to the nations of the world that a new era in naval warfare had begun, and that she was well-named no one could doubt after that momentous ninth of March, 1862. Honors were showered upon the inventor, whose great service to the nation could not be questioned. The following ten years of his life were devoted to the construction of his famous torpedo-boat, the " Destroyer," which, he believed, would annihilate any vessel afloat—the predecessor of all the torpedo-boats, past and present, which have played so important a part in naval warfare. He lived for more than twenty years in a house in Beach street, New York, where he died, in 1889.
The Monitor's attack upon the Merrimac would have been ineffective but for the remarkable guns with which the little craft was armed—two eleven-inch rifled cannon, the invention of John Adolph Dahlgren. Dahlgren had been connected with the ordnance department of the navy at Washington for many years, and his inventions had revolutionized United States gunnery.
Dahlgren was born at Philadelphia, where his father was Swedish consul, a position which he held until his death in 1824. The boy, from his earliest years, had been ambitious to enter the navy, and finally, at the age of seventeen, received his midshipman's warrant. In 1847, he was assigned to ordnance duty at Washington, and began that career of extraordinary energy, which lasted for six-teen years. He saw almost at once the many defects in the cannon which were at that time being manufactured, and soon offered a design of his own, which proved a vast advance over old guns. The Dahlgren gun, as it was called, was of iron, cast solid, with a thick breech adjusted to meet varying pressure strains. The invention of the rifled cannon followed, and it was this weapon which caused even the great armored Merrimac to tremble. Admiral Dahlgren's career was a distinguished one, but no service he rendered his country was more noteworthy than this.
But there are triumphs of peace, as well as of war, and one of the most notable of these was won by Cyrus Hall McCormick when he invented the aut made reaper which bears his name. In 1859, it was estimated that the reaper was worth $55,000,000 a year to the United States ; William H. Seward re-marked that, " owing to Mr. McCormick's invention, the line of civilization moves westward thirty miles each year "; and the London Times declared, after it had been tested at the great international exhibition of 1851, that it was " worth to the farmers of England the whole cost of that exhibition." To few men is it given to confer such benefits upon mankind, and the career of this one is well worth dwelling upon.
Cyrus McCormick was born in 1809, in a little house at the hamlet of Walnut Grove, Virginia. His father was a farmer, and was also something of a mechanical genius, and as early as 1816, had tried to build a mechanical reaper. His son inherited this aptitude, and helped his father in mechanical experiments, soon quite outstripping him. As a farmer's boy, his day's work in the fields began at five o'clock in the morning, and in the harvesting season even earlier. But in the harvest field, he found himself unable to keep up with grown men in the hard work of swinging the scythe, and so devised a harvesting-cradle, which made the work so much easier that he was able to do his share. At the age of twenty-two he invented a plough, which threw alternate furrows on either side, and two years later, a self-sharpening plough, which proved a great success.
Then he turned his attention to a mechanical reaper, though his father warned him against wasting time and money on so impracticable a project. But the possibility of making a machine do the hot hand-work of the harvest field fascinated the young man, and he set to work upon the problem. It was not an easy one, for the machine, to be successful, must not only work in fields where the wheat stood straight, but also where it had become tangled and beaten down by wind and rain. In 1831, he produced his first practicable machine, making every part of it himself by hand. Its three essential features have never been changed—a vibrating cutting-blade, a reel to bring the grain within reach of the blade, and a platform to receive the falling grain. The problem had been solved.
Three years, however, were spent in perfecting the minor working parts, then another was built and tested. It worked well, but McCormick was still not satisfied with it, and not until 1840, was it perfected sufficiently to make him willing to put it on the market. This self-restraint was remarkable, but it had this good effect, that when the machine was finally offered to the public, it was not an experiment. So there were no failures, but a steady increase in demand from the very first, until the great factory, which McCormick early located at Chicago, now turns out nearly two hundred thousand machines a year. The whir of these machines is heard around the world—everywhere the McCormick reaper is doing its share toward lightening man's labor.
Another of the great victories of peace was won by Elias Howe, when, in 1844, he invented a machine which would sew. Strangely enough, he was at first regarded as an enemy of humanity, rather than as a, friend; an enemy, especially, of the poor sewing-women who earned a pitiful living with the needle. Few had the foresight to perceive that it was these very women whose toil he was doing most to lighten !
Elias Howe, born in Spencer, Massachusetts, in 1819, as the son of a poor miller, and was put to work at the age of six to contribute his mite to the support of the family. He was a frail child and slightly lame, so that, after trying in vain to do farm labor, he went to work in the mill, and afterwards in a machine shop, where he learned to be a first-class machinist—knowledge which, at a later day, was to stand him in good stead. He married, at the age of twenty-one, and three children were born to him. Then came a period of illness, during which' the young mother supported the family by sewing ; and as Howe lay upon his bed, watching his wife at this tedious labor, the thought came to him what a blessing it would be to mankind if a machine could be devised to do that work.
The idea remained with him, and finally led to experiments. Of the many disappointments, the long months of patient labor, the intense thought, the repeated failures, there is not room to tell here; but at last he hit upon the solution of the problem—the use of two threads, making the stitch by means of a shuttle and a needle with the eye near the point. In October, 1844, he produced a rude machine which would actually sew. Another year was spent in perfecting it, while he kept his family from starvation by doing such odd jobs as he could find, and in the winter of 1845, he was ready to introduce his machine to the public.
But here an unforeseen difficulty arose. The public refused to have anything to do with the machine. The tailors declared it would ruin their trade, and refused to try it; nobody could be found who would invest a dollar in it; and Howe, in despair, was forced to put his invention away and to accept a place as railway engineer in order to support his family. Some disastrous years followed, his wife died, and he was left in absolute poverty, but at last came a ray of light. A man named Bliss became interested in Howe's invention, and a few machines were made and marketed in New York. Riots among the workingmen followed, so serious that for a time the use of the machines was stopped; but no human power could stay the wheel of progress, and as the value of the invention came to be recognized, all opposition to it faded away. Howe's royalties grew to enormous proportions, but he had been broken in health by his years of struggle and hardship, and lived only a few years to enjoy them.
George Henry Corliss was another mechanical genius, who, in one respect, anticipated Howe, for about 1842 he actually invented a machine for stitching leather. That was two years before Howe made his discovery. But Corliss was soon attracted to other work, and the development of the sewing machine was left for the other inventor. It was in 1846 that Corliss began to develop those improvements in the steam engine which were to revolutionize its construction. One trouble with the steam engine as then built was that it was not uniform in motion. That is, if the engine was running a lot of machines, their speed would vary from moment to moment, as they were started or stopped. For instance, a hundred looms, all running at once, would run at a certain speed, but if some of them were shut off, the speed. of the others would increase, so that it was very difficult to regulate them. Again, there was a tremendous waste of power, so that the fuel consumption was out of all proportion to the power actually developed.
It was these defects that Corliss set himself to remedy, and he did it simply by taking a load off the governor, which had always been used to move the throttle-valve. In the Corliss engine, the governor simply indicated to the valves the work to be done, and the saving of fuel was so great that the inventor often installed his engine under a contract to take the saving in coal-bills from a certain period as his pay. One of his great achievements was the construction of a 1400 horse power engine to move all the machinery at the centennial exposition at Philadelphia, in 1876. The engine, which worked splendidly, was one of the sights of the exposition.
What the sewing-machine is to the needle, the typewriter is to the pen. No other one invention has so revolutionized business, and the credit for the invention of a practicable typewriting machine is due to C. Latham Sholes. Others had tried their hands at the problem before he took it up, but he was the first to hit upon its solution—a number of type-bars carrying the letters of the alphabet operated by levers and striking upon a common centre, past which. the paper was carried on a revolving cylinder.
Sholes had a varied and picturesque career. Born in Pennsylvania in 1819, he followed the printer's trade for a number of years, and it was no doubt from the type that he got his idea of engraved dies mounted on type-bars. Finally he removed to Wisconsin, where he edited a paper and soon became prominent in the politics of the state, holding a number of appointive positions. It was in 1866 that he began to experiment with a writing-machine, and his first one, which was patented two years later, was as big as a sewing-machine. Still, it embodied the essential principles of the typewriter as it is made to-day, and after spending five years in perfecting it, Sholes made a contract with E. Remington & Son to manufacture it. It is one of the ironies of fate that the name principally connected with the typewriter in the public mind is that of the manufacturer, the identity of the inventor being completely lost, so far as applied, at least, to the name of any machine.
We have spoken elsewhere of the career of John D. Rockefeller, of the immense fortune he made from petroleum and the manner in which he disposed of a portion of it. It is worth pausing a moment to consider the career of the two men who discovered petroleum, who sunk the first well in search of a larger supply, and who put it on the market. There is scarcely any development of modern life to rank in importance with the introduction of kerosene. It added at once several hours to every day, and who can estimate what these evening hours, spent usually in study or reading, have meant to humanity ?
In the early part of the century, whales were so plentiful, especially along the New England coast, that whale, or sperm, oil was used for lighting purposes, and many of the old whale-oil lamps are still in existence. The light they gave was dim and smoky, but it was far better than no light at all. As the years passed, whales became more and more scarce, until sperm oil was selling at over two dollars a gallon. Only the richest people could afford to pay that, and the poor passed their evenings in darkness.
In 1854, a man named James M. Townsend brought to Professor Silliman, of Yale, a bottle of oil, asking him to test it. This was done, and the astonished professor found that here was an oil, whose source he could only guess, which made a splendid illuminant and which also seemed to have some medicinal properties. The oil was from Oil Creek, Pennsylvania, and Townsend, associating with himself a conductor named E. L. Drake, formed the Seneca Oil Company and began gathering the oil by digging trenches. At first it was bottled and sold for medicinal purposes at one dollar a gallon; then Drake suggested that a larger supply might be secured if a well was bored for it. A man familiar with salt well boring was employed, and in 1859 the first well was begun at Titusville.
Most people regarded Drake as a madman, and thought that he was simply throwing money away. The work was costly and slow, and finally, when $50,000 had been spent without result, the stock-holders of the company refused to go further—all except Townsend. That-enthusiast managed to rake up another $500, which he sent to Drake, with instructions to make it go as far as possible. It did not go very far—and yet far enough—for one day the auger, which was down sixty-eight feet, struck a cavity, and up came a flow of oil to within five feet of the surface. Pumping began at the rate of five hundred barrels a day, and fortune seemed in sight. But three months later, the company's works were destroyed by fire, and before they could be re-built, scores of other wells had been sunk, many of which were " gushers," requiring no pumping, and the supply was soon so far in excess of the demand that the price of oil tumbled to one dollar a barrel. Discouraged by all this, the Seneca Company sold out its leases and disbanded, leaving Townsend and Drake poorer than they had been before their great discovery.
Years ago, in 1790, to be exact, an Italian scientist named Galvani, experimenting with the legs of a frog, happened to touch the exposed nerves with a piece of metal, while the legs were lying across an-other piece. He was astonished to see the legs con-tract violently. Further experiments followed, and the galvanic battery resulted. Years later, our own Professor Henry discovered that if an insulated wire 'carrying a current of electricity was wrapped around a piece of soft iron, the latter became a magnet. Out of these simple discoveries, came the electric telegraph, and, still more wonderful, the telephone, by which the human voice may be instantly projected hundreds of miles, not only intelligibly, but with every tone and inflection reproduced. In an age of wonders, this is surely one of the greatest.
On February 14, 1876, two applications were made at the patent office at Washington for patents upon the conveyance of sound by electricity. One was filed by Elisha Gray, the other by Alexander Graham Bell. They were practically identical, but it was Bell's good fortune to be the first to make his 'device practically effective, and so he may fairly be considered the inventor of the telephone.
Alexander Graham Bell was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1847, the son of the famous Alexander Melville Bell, the inventor of the system by which deaf people are enabled to read speech more or less correctly by observing the motion of the lips. The family moved to Canada in 1872, and Alexander Bell came to Boston, where he soon became widely known as an authority in the teaching of the deaf and dumb. The reproduction of the human voice by mechanical means interested him deeply, and his study of the construction of the human ear, with its drum vibrating in response to sound vibrations, gave him the idea of a vibrating piece of iron in front of an electric magnet. He was, however, very poor and had no money to expend in experiments—so poor, indeed, that when attacked by illness, his hospital expenses were paid by his employer, and so friend-less that during his illness no one visited him except two or three pupils from his school.
He persevered with his experiments, with such rude apparatus as he could make himself, and the first Bell telephone was brought into existence with an old cigar-box, two hundred feet of wire, and two magnets from a toy fish-pond. In an improved form, it was shown at the Centennial exhibition of 1876, where Sir William Thomson pronounced it " the greatest marvel hitherto achieved by the electric telegraph." As is always the case, the public was slow to appreciate the importance of the invention, and as late as 1877, Bell was unable to secure $10,000 for a half interest in the European rights. The rapid growth of the business in this country is almost without a parallel in history, and no invention has added more to the convenience of modern life.
A distinguished scientist one day asked the late Clerk Maxwell what was the greatest scientific discovery of the last half century, and Maxwell answered without an instant's hesitation : " That the Gramme machine is reversible." Probably the whole scientific world will agree with him, for that discovery meant that power will not only produce electricity, but that electricity will produce power. Let us see how that has been applied. Falling water is one of the most powerful agents in the world, and at a great waterfall like Niagara, millions of horse-power go to waste every day. So at the foot of Niagara, great power-houses have been built where the power of the water is converted into electricity. The electricity is conducted along wires for hundreds of miles to the great industrial centres, and there converted back again into power. In other words, the water of Niagara is to-day turning machinery in Buffalo and Albany. The same method of producing power, the cheapest that has ever been discovered, is being installed all over the world, and will, in time, produce a revolution in manufacturing processes.
The vital mechanism in the production of this power is the dynamo, and it is to Charles F. Brush, of Cleveland, Ohio, that its development is principally due. He was interested in electricity from his earliest years, and when he was only thirteen, distinguished himself by making magnetic machines and batteries for the Cleveland high-school, where he was a pupil. During his senior year, the physical apparatus of the school laboratory was placed under his charge, and he constructed an electric motor having its field magnets as well as its armature excited by the electric current. He devised an apparatus for turning on the gas in the street lamps of Cleve-land, lighting it and turning it off again, thus doing away with the expensive process of lighting them and turning them out by hand.
After graduating from the University of Michigan with the degree of mining engineer, he returned to Cleveland, where, in 1875, his attention was drawn to the great need of a more effective dynamo than the clumsy and inefficient types then in use. In two months, Brush had made a dynamo so perfect in every way that it was running until taken to the Chicago Exposition, in 1893. Six months more of experimenting resulted in the Brush are light, and in 1879 the Brush Electric Company was organized. A year later, the first Brush lights were installed in New York City, and now there is scarcely a town in the country which does not pay tribute to the inventor.
Let us turn for a moment from the field of electricity, in which America has been pre-eminent, to another in which Yankee ingenuity has also led the world—the railroad. It was in this country that the sleeping-car, the diner, the parlor-car were first used; no other country affords such luxury of travel ; and no other country has added to railroading any device comparable in importance to the invention of George Westinghouse, the air-brake. Before its introduction, to stop a train brakes must be set painfully by hand, and even then were not always effective. Now, the engineer, by pulling a single lever, sets the brakes instantly all along his train, and so effectively that the passengers sometimes feel as though the train had struck a rock. More than that, should any accident occur, breaking the train in two, the brakes are instantly set automatically. All of which is done by the power of compresed air, working through a series of pipes and air-hose beneath the cars.
George Westinghouse's father was superintendent of the Schenectady Agricultural Works, and it was there that the boy found his vocation. Before he was fifteen, he had modelled and built a steam engine and followed that with a steel railroad frog, which was so great an improvement over the frogs then in use that it was soon widely adopted, and brought the young inventor both money and reputation. He moved to Pittsburgh, as the centre of the iron and steel business, and began the manufacture of his frogs there.
One day he came across a newspaper account of the successful use of compressed air in the digging of the Mont Cenis tunnel, in Switzerland, and the thought occurred to him that perhaps a railroad train could be controlled by the same agency. He ;worked over the problem for a time, but when he mentioned his idea to his friends, they were inclined to think it absurd to suppose that a rubber-tube strung along under the cars could work the brakes effectively. However, Westinghouse was not discouraged, but continued to experiment, and the air-brake as we have it today was the result.
Which brings us to the most remarkable genius in the field of invention the world has ever known —the man who has made invention, as it were, a business, whose life has been devoted to rendering practical and useful the dreams of other men, who has reduced invention to a science—Thomas Alva Edison. There are some who are inclined to belittle Edison's achievements because some of the greatest of them have been founded upon the ideas of others. He is best known, for instance, as the inventor of the modern incandescent light; but the discovery that light may be obtained from wire heated to incandescence in a glass bulb from which the air has been exhausted, was made when Edison was only two years old. Experiments with this light were made by a dozen scientists, but it remained a mere laboratory curiosity until Edison took hold of it, and with a patience, ingenuity and fertility of resource, in which he stands alone, made it a practicable, efficient and convenient source of light. That the incandescent light, as it is known to-day, is his through and through cannot be questioned.
It is as a scientific inventor that Edison likes to be known. He abhors the word discoverer, as applied to himself. "Discovery is not invention," he once said. " A discovery is more or less in the nature of an accident, while an invention is purely deductive. In my own case, but few, and those the least important, of my inventions, owed anything to accident. Most of them have been hammered. out after long and patient labor, and are the result of countless experiments all directed toward attaining some well-defined object.
There is, however, one modern marvel for which Edison is wholly responsible, both for the initial idea and for its practical working-out—the phonograph—but let us tell something of his early life, before we relate the achievements of his manhood.
Born in a little village in Erie County, Ohio, in 1847, Edison was early introduced to the struggle for existence. His father was very poor, being, in-deed, the village jack-of-all-trades, and living upon such odd jobs as he was able to procure. The boy, of course, was put to work as soon as he was old enough, and of regular schooling had only two months in all his life. At the age of twelve, he was a train-boy on the Michigan Central Railroad, selling books, papers, candy and fruit to the passengers. He managed to get some type and an old press and issued a little paper called the " Grand Trunk Herald," containing the news of the railroad. One day, he snatched the little child of the station-master at Port Clements, Michigan, from under the wheels of a train, and in return the grateful father taught the boy telegraphy.
It was the turning-point in his career, for it turned his attention to the study of electricity, with which he was soon fascinated. At eighteen, he was working as an operator at Indianapolis, but he was from the very first, more of an inventor than an operator, and his inventions sometimes got him into trouble. For instance, at one place where he had a night trick, he was required to report the word " six " every half-hour to the manager to show that he was awake and on duty. After a while, he rigged up a wheel to do it for him, and all went well until the manager happened to visit the office one night and found Edison sleeping calmly while his wheel was sending in the word " six." But he nevertheless developed into one of the swiftest operators in the country, all the time devising changes and improvements in the mechanism of telegraphy.
His first great success came with the sale of an improvement in the instruments used to record stock quotations, which enabled these " tickers " to print the quotations legibly on paper tape, and this success enabled him to get some capitalists to finance his experiments with the electric light. The arrrangement was that they were to pay the expense of the experiments and to share in such inventions as resulted. For the sake of quiet, he moved out to a little place in New Jersey called Menlo Park, and built himself a shop. Then began that remarkable series of experiments—one of the most remarkable in history—which resulted in the perfection of the incandescent lamp.
The problem was to find a material for the filament which would give a bright light and which would, at the same time, be durable, and with this end in view, hundreds and hundreds of different filaments were tried. The difficulties in the way of this experimenting were enormous, since the light only burns when in a vacuum, and the instant the vacuum is impaired, out it goes. At one time, all the lamps he had burning at Menlo Park, about eighty in all, went out, one after another, without apparent cause. The lamps had been equipped with filaments of carbon and had burned for a month. There seemed to be no reason why they should not burn for a year, and Edison was stunned by the catastrophe. Ile began at once the most exhaustive series of experiments ever undertaken by an American physicist, remaining in his laboratory for five days and nights, dining at his work bench on bread and cheese, and snatching a little sleep occasionally, when one of his assistants was on duty. It was finally discovered that the air had not been sufficiently exhausted from the lamps.
Again success seemed in sight, but soon the lamps began acting queerly again. Worn out with fatigue and disappointment, Edison took to his bed. Ultimate failure was freely predicted, and the price of gas stock rose again. In five months, the inventor had aged five years, but he was not yet ready to give up the fight. And at last it was won, and the incan- descent lamp placed on the market. It has not displaced gas, as some people thought it would, but it is the basis of a business which made the Inventors sufficiently rich to realize his great ambition of building himself the finest laboratory in the world ; where the most expert iron-workers, wood-workers, glass-blowers, metal-spinners, machinists and chemists in the world find employment. Every known metal, every chemical, every kind of glass, stone, earth, wood, fibre, paper, skin, cloth, may be found in its store-rooms, ready for instant use. The library contains one of the finest collections of scientific books and periodicals to be found anywhere. These are the tools, and with them Edison is constantly at work upon a great variety of problems.
The first thing he turned his hand to after his installation in his new laboratory was the phonograph. The patient thought and experiment, extending over many years, lavished on this wonderful invention are almost unbelievable. The idea had came to him years before, when he had worked out an instrument that would not only record telegrams by indenting a strip of paper with the dots and dashes of the Morse code, but would also repeat the message any number of times by running the indented strip of paper through it.
" Naturally enough," said Edison, in telling the story, " the idea occurred to me that if the indentations on paper could be made to give off again the click of the instrument, why could not the vibrations of a diaphragm be recorded and similarly re-produced? I rigged up an instrument hastily and pulled a strip of paper through it, at the same time shouting Hallo ! ' Then the paper was pulled through again, and listening breathlessly, I heard a distinct sound, which a strong imagination might have translated into the original ` Hallo ! ' That was enough to lead me to a further experiment. I made a drawing of a model, and took it to Mr. Kruesi, at that time engaged on piece-work for me. I told him it was a talking-machine. He grinned, thinking it a joke; but he set to work and soon had the model ready. I arranged some tin-foil on it and spoke into the machine. Kruesi looked on, still grinning. But when I arranged the machine for transmission and we both heard a distinct sound from it, he nearly fell down in his fright. I must admit that I was a little scared myself." The words which he had spoken into the machine and which were the first ever to be reproduced mechanically, was the old Mother Goose quatrain, starting, " Mary had a Little Lamb."
From that rude beginning came the phonograph, with which Edison has never ceased to experiment. He has made improvements in it from year to year, until it has reached its present high state of efficiency —a state, however, which Edison hopes to improve still further. In addition to the two great inventions of the phonograph and incandescent lamp, which we have dwelt upon here, many more stand to his credit. In fact, he has been the greatest client the patent office ever had, nearly one thousand patents having been issued in his name. At the age of sixty-three, he shows no sign of falling off in either mental or physical energy, and no doubt more than one invention has yet to come from Llewellyn Park before he quits his great laboratory forever.
No one can ever guess at the future of electrical invention. The recent marvelous development of the wireless telegraph, by which the impalpable ether is harnessed to man's service, is an indication of the wonders which may be expected in the future. It was our own Joseph Henry who, in 1842, discovered the electric wave—the " induction " upon which wireless telegraphy depends. He discovered that when he produced an electric spark an inch long in a room at the top of his house, electrical action was instantly set up in another wire circuit in the cellar. After some study, he saw and announced that the electric spark started some sort of action in the ether, which passed through floors and ceilings and all other intervening objects, and caused induction in the wires in the cellar. But wireless telegraphy was made a commercial possibility not by any great scientist, but by a young Italian named Marconi. Already experiments with wireless telephony are going forward, and another half century may see all the labor of the world performed by this wonderful and mysterious force which we call electricity.
From earliest times, man has longed to navigate the air. He has watched with envy the free flight of birds, and has tried to imitate it, usually with disastrous results. The balloon, of course, enabled him to rise in the air, but once there, he was at the mercy of every wind. More recently, balloons fitted with motors and steering gear have been devised, which are to some extent dirigible ; but the real problem has been to fly as birds do without any such artificial aid as balloons provide.
Experiments to solve this problem were begun several years ago by Professor S. P. Langley, of the Smithsonian Institution, under government supervision, and pointed the way to other investigators. He proved, theoretically, that air-flight was possible, provided sufficient velocity could be obtained. He showed that a heavier-that-air machine would sustain itself in the air if it could only be driven fast enough. You have all skipped flat stones across the water. Well, that is exactly the principle of the flying machine. As long as the stone went fast enough, it skipped along the top of the water, which sustained it and even threw it up into the air again. When its speed slackened, it sank. So the boy on skates can skim safely across thin ice which would not bear his weight for an instant if he tried to stand upon it.
So, theoretically, it was possible to fly, but to re-duce theory to practice was a very different thing. Professor Langley tried for years and failed. Ho built a great machine, which plunged beneath the waters of the Potomac a minute after it was launched. All over the world, inventors were struggling with the problem, but nowhere with any great degree of success. It remained for two brothers, in a little workshop at Dayton, Ohio, to produce the first machine which would really fly.
Orville and Wilbur Wright were poor boys, the sons of a clergyman, and apparently in no way distinguished from ordinary boys, except by a taste for mechanics. They had a little workshop, and one day in 1905, they brought out a strange looking machine from it, and announced that it was a flying-machine. The people of Dayton smiled skeptically, and assembled to witness the demonstration with the thought that there would probably soon be need for an ambulance. The gasoline motor with which the machine was equipped, was started, one of the brothers climbed aboard and grasped the levers, the other dropped a weight which started the machine down a long incline. For a moment, it slid along, then its great forward planes caught the air current and it soared gracefully up into the air.
That was a great moment in human history, so great that the crowd looking on scarcely realized its import They watched the machine with bated breath, and saw it steered around in a circle, showing that it could go against the wind as well as with it. For thirty-eight minutes it remained in the air, making a circular flight of over twenty-four miles. Then it was gently landed and the exhibition was over. Great crowds flocked to Dayton, after that, expecting to see further exhibitions, but they were disappointed. The machine had been taken back to the shop, and the young inventors announced that they were making some changes in it. No one was admitted to the shop, nor were any other flights made.
One day the inventors also disappeared, and months later it was discovered that they had built themselves a little shop on a deserted stretch of the sandy North Carolina coast, and that they were carrying on their experiments there, secure from observation. Enterprising reporters tried to interview them and failed; but, ambushed afar off, they one day saw the great machine soaring proudly in a wide circle above the sands. A photographer even got a distant photograph of it. There could be no doubt that the Wright brothers had solved the problem of flight.
But not for two years more were they ready for publie exhibitions. Then, in 1908, they appeared at Fort Myer, Virginia, ready to take part in the contest set by the United States government. No one who was present on that first day will ever forget his sensations as the great winged creature rose grace-fully from the ground and circled about in the air overhead. Again and again flights were made, some-times with an extra passenger ; great speed was attained and the machine was under perfect control. But an unfortunate accident put a stop to the trials, for one day a propellor-blade broke while the machine was in mid-air, and it struck the ground before it could be righted. The passenger, a member of the United States Signal Corps, was instantly killed and Orville Wright was seriously injured.
Meanwhile, the other brother, Wilbur, had gone to Europe, where, first in France, and afterwards in Italy and England, he created a tremendous sensation by his spectacular flights. They were uniformly successful. Not an accident marred them. The governments of Europe were quick to secure the right to manufacture the aeroplane; kings and princes vied with each other in honoring the young inventor, and when he returned to the United States, city, state, and nation combined in a great reception to him and to his brother.
As these lines are being written, in August, 1909, another series of flights has been concluded at Fort Myer. They were successful in every way in fulfilling the government tests, and the Wrights' machine was purchased by the government for $30,000. Everywhere air-ship flights are being made successfully, and it is only a question of time until the aeroplane becomes a common means of conveyance. Wilbur Wright declares that it is already safer than the automobile, and it would seem that there is in store for man a new and exquisite sensation, that of flight.
Surely, America has cause to be proud of her inventors !
SUMMARY plied to himself. "Discovery is not invention," he once said. " A discovery is more or less in the nature of an accident, while an invention is purely deductive. In my own case, but few, and those the least important, of my inventions, owed anything to accident. Most of them have been hammered. out after long and patient labor, and are the result of countless experiments all directed toward attaining some well-defined object. FULTON, ROBERT. Born at Little Britain, Pennsylvania, 1765; went to London, 1786, to study painting under Benjamin West; abandoned painting, 1793; returned to America, 1806; first successful trip in steam-boat, the Clermont, August 11, 1807; died at New York City, February 24, 1815.
WHITNEY, ELI. Born at Westborough, Massachusetts, December 8, 1765; graduated at Yale, 1792; went to Georgia as teacher and invented cotton-gin, 1792–93; died at New Haven, Connecticut, January 8, 1825.
MORSE, SAMUEL FINLEY BREESE. Born, at Charlestown town, Massachusetts, April 27, 1791; graduated at Yale, 1810; studied art under Benjamin West in London, and opened studio in New York City, 1823; first president National Academy of Design, 1826—42; designed electric telegraph, 1832; applied for patent, 1837; first line completed between Baltimore and Washington, 1844; died at New York City, April 2, 1872.
GOODYEAR, CHARLES. Born at New Haven, Connecticut, December 29, 1800; began experiments with rubber, 1834; secured patent, 1844; died at New York City, July 1, 1860.
ERICSSON, JOHN. Born in parish of Fernebo, Wermland, Sweden, July 31, 1803; went to England, 1826; came to America, 1839; constructed caloric engine, 1833; applied screw to steam navigation, 1836—41; invented turreted ironclad Monitor, 1862; died at New York City, March 8, 1889.
DAHLGREN, JOHN ADOLPH. Born at Philadelphia, November 13, 1809 ; lieutenant in navy, 1837; assigned to ordnance duty at Washington, 1847; commander, 1855; rear-admiral, 1863; took important part in naval operations during Civil War; died at Washington, July 12, 1870.
McCORMICK, CYRUS HALL. Born at Walnut Grove, West Virginia, February 15, 1809; invented mechanical reaper, 1831; died at Chicago, May 13, 1884.
HOWE, ELIAS. Born at Spencer, Massachusetts, July 9, 1819 ; invented sewing-machine, 1844; died at Brooklyn, New York, October 3, 1867.
CORLISS, GEORGE HENRY. Born at Easton, New York, July 2, 1817; invented Corliss engine, 1849; died at Providence, Rhode Island, February 21, 1888.
SHOLES, CHRISTOPHER LATHAM. Born at Mooresburg, Pennsylvania, February 14, 1819; state senator, Wisconsin, 1848, 1856-58; held many positions of trust in Milwaukee, 1869-78; patented typewriter, 1868.
BELL, ALEXANDER GRAHAM. Born at Edinburgh, Scotland, March 3, 1847; came to Canada, 1870, and to Boston, 1871; invented telephone, 1876; graphophone, 1883.
BRUSH, CHARLES FRANCIS. Born at Euclid, Ohio, March 17, 1849; graduated University of Michigan, 1869; invented modern arc electric lighting; founder Brush Electric Company.
WESTINGHOUSE, GEORGE. Born at Central Bridge, Schoharie County, New York, October 6, 1846; invented rotary engine at age of fifteen; in Union army, 1863-64; invented air brake, 1868; also inventions in railway signals, steam and gas engines, turbines, and electric machinery.
EDISON, THOMAS ALVA. Born at Milan, Ohio, February 11, 1847; established workshop at Menlo Park, New Jersey, 1876; invented megaphone, phonograph, aerophone, incandescent electric lamp, kinetoscope, and many other things.
WRIGHT, ORVILLE. Born at Dayton, Ohio, 1871, WRIGHT, WILBUR. Born at Dayton, Ohio, 1869.