Science: Patent Centennial

Before 1776, most of the American colonies granted patents. But an inventor had to obtain a separate patent from each colony in which he wanted protection. The name and invention of the man to whom Thomas Jefferson granted the first U. S. patent were lost to history because of a fire.

During the War of 1812, when British soldiers were firing Washington, a group of invaders arrived before the Patent Office, ready to apply the torch. Out on the portico strode Superintendent William Thornton, puffing and glowering. Bellowed he: "This is the emporium of the...

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