Eli Whitney and his Patent
Many contend that the only reason people invent, or create anything, is because of the
protection that intellectual property--copyright and patent--gives them so they can
reap the financial rewards they have earned. Nothing more, and nothing less.
My belief, on the contrary, is that inventions, and other creations, if they are of any
real utility, and value, become the property of those other
than their originator, who reaps little, except maybe some historical recognition.
This has been observed upon not only by socialists, and those, so-called, liberals who
wish to tear down the structure that has made America great.
Gustavus Myers, whose groundbreaking work, History of the Great American
Fortunes, was published originally in 1907, cites the following, instructive note
upon Eli Whitney and his patent from no liberal, or socialist, but by
a eulogizer of wealth, Walter R. Houghton, A.M., in his Kings of Fortune.
First, Myers' gloss upon the title of Houghton's work
The pretentious title and sub-title of this work. . .gives an idea of the
fantastic exhaltation indulged in of the careers of men of great wealth. Hearken to the
full title: "Kings of Fortune--of the Triumphs and Achievements of Noble, Self-made
men.--Whose brilliant careers have honored their calling, blessed humanity, and
whose lives furnish instruction for the young, entertainment for the old and valuable
lessons for the aspirants of fortune." Could any fulsome effusion possibly surpass
Have things changed in the adulation of rich men in the more than a century since
Kings of Fortune was written?
"America," admits Houghton. "never presented a more shameful spectacle
than was exhibited when the courts of the cotton-growing regions united with the
piratical infringers of Whitney’s rights in robbing their greatest benefactor. . . .In
spite of the far-reaching benefits of his invention, he had not realized one dollar above
his expenses. He had given millions upon millions of dollars to the cotton-growing States,
he had opened the way for the establishment of the vast cotton-spinning interests of his
own country and Europe, and yet, after fourteen years of hard labor, he was a poor man,
the victim of wealthy, powerful, and, in his case, a dishonest class."
The use of intellectual property as a tool of the oligarchy is not new.