Invention of a Slave

Discussion in 'Courts & Laws of the Antebellum & Civil War Eras' started by 5fish, Oct 20, 2019.

  1. 5fish

    5fish Well-Known Member

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    Invention of a Slave

    At the link you can down load the whole paper: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2918085

    On June 10, 1858, the Attorney General issued an opinion titled Invention of a Slave, concluding that a slave owner could not patent a machine invented by his slave, because neither the slave owner nor his slave could take the required patent oath. The slave owner could not swear to be the inventor, and the slave could not take an oath at all. The Patent Office denied at least two patent applications filed by slave owners, one of which was filed by Senator Jefferson Davis of Mississippi, who later became the President of the Confederate States of America. But it also denied at least one patent application filed by a free African-American inventor, because African-Americans could not be citizens of the United States under Dred Scott. Slave owners objected to the Attorney General’s opinion, arguing that they were entitled to own all of the fruits of the labor of their slaves, whether physical or mental. Abolitionists objected to its application by the Patent Office, arguing that free African-Americans were citizens of the United States, entitled to patent their inventions. Slave owners unsuccessfully tried to amend the Patent Act to enable slave owners to patent the inventions of their slaves, which the Patent Act of the Confederate States of America explicitly permitted. By contrast, abolitionists successfully convinced the Attorney General to issue an opinion concluding that free African-Americans were citizens of the United States, entitled to patent their inventions, among other things. Today, the Attorney General’s opinion in Invention of a Slave is forgotten for the best reason: it was abrogated by the Reconstruction Amendments. Nevertheless, it illuminates peculiar contradictions in the ideology of slavery and its application. Slave owners justified slavery by denying the humanity and creativity of African-Americans, but still wanted to claim ownership of valuable inventions created by their slaves. They rationalized that contradiction by claiming that slaves were more creative than free African-Americans, implicitly characterizing slavery as humanitarian. By contrast, the Attorney General and the Patent Office relied on the ideology of slavery to prevent slave owners from patenting inventions created by their slaves, but ironically also prevented free African-Americans from patenting their inventions.
     
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  2. 5fish

    5fish Well-Known Member

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    Link: https://usslave.blogspot.com/2013/02/slaves-and-us-patent-office.html

    Then, intellectual property and human property were dual and dueling pillars of capitalist development, and for a vast swath of the population, invention was stifled under the crushing weight of slavery.

    Davis is remembered for many things, though not for being an accomplished inventor, and for good reason: The improved propeller wasn’t his to patent. Instead, it was the work of Benjamin Montgomery, a slave on the plantation of Davis’s brother Joseph.

    After the patent office turned down Jefferson Davis’s claim, Joseph tried his luck, applying for a patent on the propeller and making clear, as Jefferson had, that it was Montgomery’s design. Since Montgomery was Joseph Davis’s human property, Joseph had every reason to expect that the Patent Office would accept his claim. Naturally, as one slave owner phrased it, “no one could rationally doubt, that in legal contemplation, the master has the same right to the fruits of the labor of the intilect [sic] of his slave, that he has to those of his hand.”

    Unfortunately for the Davis brothers, Holt ruled in 1857 that slave inventions couldn’t be patented under existing law. As a slave, Montgomery wasn’t a citizen and was therefore “legally incompetent,” in Holt’s words, to file a claim on his own. At the same time, because neither Jefferson nor Joseph Davis was the “true and original inventor” of Montgomery’s propeller, neither could file a claim on the slave’s behalf and thus legally protect the invention.

    Still, the Davis brothers could have simply claimed Montgomery’s inventions as their own. Evidence suggests that Eli Whitney’s cotton gin and Cyrus McCormick’s reaper, both landmark antebellum inventions, were at least partially the products of slave intellectual labor. The Davis brothers took a different approach, asserting the intellectual capabilities of slaves such as Montgomery, while trying to claim the profits of that ingenuity as their own.

    The link goes no about confederate patient laws and about the slave Montgomery...

     
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  3. 5fish

    5fish Well-Known Member

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    It is amazing how lawyers can twist the facts... and it seem logical...
     
  4. O' Be Joyful

    O' Be Joyful Well-Known Member

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    That is the job description. Make the illogical appear to be logical, "legal." and esculpating.
     
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  5. Wehrkraftzersetzer

    Wehrkraftzersetzer Hüter des Reinheitsgebotes

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    and sent an invoice
     
  6. 5fish

    5fish Well-Known Member

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    Invention by slaves...

    LINK: https://www.blackenterprise.com/black-history-month-inventions-black-slaves-denied-patents/

    LINK2: https://theconversation.com/america...-patent-system-explicitly-excluded-them-72619

    Free blacks sometimes did successfully receive patents. One example is Thomas Jennings, the first black patent holder, who invented dry cleaning in 1821.

    Johnson writes, “One group of prolific innovators, however, has been largely ignored by history: black inventors born or forced into American slavery. Though U.S. patent law was created with color-blind language to foster innovation, the patent system consistently excluded these inventors from recognition.”

    Henry Boyd was born into slavery in Kentucky in 1802. After purchasing his freedom, he invented what came to be known as the “Boyd Bedstead,” a corded bed created with wooden rails connected to the headboard and footboard. His business grew successful and he employed 23 blacks and whites. He foresaw problems obtaining a patent so he partnered with a white craftsman and had his partner apply.

    Benjamin Montgomery, born into slavery in 1819, invented a steamboat propeller designed for shallow waters. This was a valuable invention as it facilitated the delivery of food and critical items. As per Johnson, “Montgomery tried to apply for a patent. The application was rejected due to his status as a slave. Montgomery’s owners tried to take credit for the propeller invention and patent it themselves, but the patent office also rejected their application because they were not the true inventors.”

    to Norbert Rillieux, a free man who invented a revolutionary sugar-refining process in the 1840s, to Elijah McCoy, who obtained 57 patents over his lifetime, those with access to the patent system invented items that still touch the lives of people today.
     
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  7. Wehrkraftzersetzer

    Wehrkraftzersetzer Hüter des Reinheitsgebotes

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    I remember a SciFi short story where an American black invents something realy big which fittes in a cigarbox. When he has a heardatack (or so) the white busdriver throws the n...shit out of the window while driving
    (could be H.Harrison)
     
  8. 5fish

    5fish Well-Known Member

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    Here are some other early Black inventors… The link has other early Black inventors but I pick out the ones before the Civil war...

    LINK: https://www.thoughtco.com/black-inventors-through-the-years-4145354

    Benjamin Banneker (Nov. 9, 1731-Oct. 9, 1806)

    Benjamin Banneker was a self-educated astronomer, mathematician, and farmer. He was among a few hundred free African-Americans living in Maryland, where slavery was legal at the time. Despite having little knowledge of timepieces, among his many accomplishments, Banneker is perhaps best known for a series of almanacs he published between 1792 and 1797 that contained detailed astronomical calculations of his, as well as writings on topics of the day. Banneker also had a small role in helping to survey Washington D.C. in 1791.

    Thomas L. Jennings (1791 - Feb. 12, 1856)

    Thomas Jennings holds the distinction of being the first African-American to be granted a patent.
    A tailor by trade in New York City, Jennings applied for and received a patent in 1821 for a cleaning technique he'd pioneered called "dry scouring." It was a precursor to today's dry cleaning. His invention made Jennings a wealthy man and he used his earnings to support early abolition and civil rights organizations.

    Elijah McCoy (May 2, 1844-Oct. 10, 1929)

    Elijah McCoy was born in Canada to parents who had been slaves in the U.S.
    The family resettled in Michigan a few years after Elijah was born, and the boy showed a keen interest in mechanical objects growing up. After training as an engineer in Scotland as a teen, he returned to the States. Unable to find a job in engineering because of racial discrimination, McCoy found work as a railroad fireman. It was while working in that role that he developed a new means of keeping locomotive engines lubricated while running, allowing them to operate longer between maintenance. McCoy continued to refine this and other inventions during his lifetime, receiving some 60 patents.
     
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  9. 5fish

    5fish Well-Known Member

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    Basic patent... if you dig you find...

    A patent is a government grant to an inventor for an invention. George Washington signed the first patent law on April 10, 1790. The law gave patent holders the sole right to make and sell their invention for fourteen years. It prevents other people from copying their invention and making money off it during that time. The Patent Act encourages progress in science by allowing patent holders the right to make a living from their own creativity.

    To receive a patent, an invention must be new and contribute something useful. A patent can't be granted to something that has already been invented, but a patent can be granted to improve an already existing invention. Patents can be granted to machines, products, devices, and processes. Chemical compounds, food, drugs, and the processes to make these things can also be patented.

    Before the Civil War (1861–1865), slavery was legal in the United States. Enslaved people were considered property and couldn't apply for patents. This didn't stop them from creating new inventions. Onesimus, a Massachusetts man enslaved by Puritan leader Cotton Mather, is credited with making a remedy for smallpox that was introduced in 1721. Papan's treatment of skin and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) was so effective the Virginia state legislature freed him from slavery so that he could practice medicine.


    The following three men are notable African American inventors of the 18th century. All three men were born free; they were not slaves. There were many more African Americans, men and women, slave and free, who designed, manufactured, and sold inventions. Most of their stories have been lost to history.

    James Forten (1766–1842) was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and lived there most of his life. He served in the U.S. Navy during the Revolutionary War. Captured and imprisoned by the British, Forten was offered his freedom if he agreed to live in England. Forten replied, "I am here a prisoner for the liberties of my country. I never, never shall prove a traitor to her interests!"

    After the war, Forten was apprenticed to a sailmaker. He quickly learned the trade and developed a patent for a device to handle ship sails, which made him a wealthy man. Forten used his money to advocate for women’s rights and the abolition of slavery.


    George Peake (1722–1827) also fought in the Revolutionary War. He was the first African American to be part of the settlement that eventually became Cleveland, Ohio. At this time, Ohio was a largely unsettled frontier in the western part of the United States.

    Peake invented a hand mill for grinding corn. His hand mill was made of two round stones approximately 48 centimeters (19 inches) wide. Peake's invention was easier to use than the traditional mortar and pestle, and ground the corn more smoothly. Although Peake didn't patent his invention, he received credit for it in the November 8, 1858, issue of the newspaper Cleveland Leader.


    A side note first African-American woman...

    Judy W. Reed, of Washington, D.C., was the first African American woman to receive a patent. Reed's invention, patent number 305,474, granted September 23, 1884, is for a dough kneader and roller.
     
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