Patent History Materials Index - Annual Report of the Commissioner of Patents for the Year 1847

Thirtieth Congress -- First Session
Ex. Doc. No. 54
House of Representatives

Annual Report of the Commissioner of Patents for the Year 1847
March 3, 1848

Referred to the Committee on Patents

Patent Office, January, 1848

Sir: In compliance with the provisions of the act of Congress, entitled "An act in addition to the act to promote the progress of science and the useful arts," approved March 3, 1847, the undersigned has the honor to submit his annual report.

During the year ending December 31, 1847, the whole number of applications for patents, is fifteen hundred and thirty-one. The whole number of caveats filed during the same period is five hundred and thirty-three.

The number of patents issued in 1847 is five hundred ad seventy-two, including fourteen re-issues, three additional improvements, and sixty designs; classified and alphabetical lists of which, with the names of the patentees, are annexed, marked K and L.

Within the same period, five hundred and eighty patents have expired; a list of which is annexed, marked M.

There were during the year, nine applications to extend patents about to expire, six of which were rejected and three granted by the board, established by the act of July 4th, 1836, to hear and determine that class of applications.

The claims embraced in the respective patents issued during the year 1847, are also annexed, marked P.

The number of applications for patents examined and rejected during the year 1847, is five hundred and fifty-seven; being very nearly as many as were granted. Many of the rejected cases may, however, be re-considered, and perhaps, upon farther examination, passed, and patents issued for the inventions or improvements claimed by the applicants.

The receipts of the office during the year 1847, including duties and fees, paid in on applications for patents, caveats, re-issues, disclaimers, additional improvements, extensions and for copies, amount, in the whole, to $63,111.19; of which sum, $8,008.43 have been repaid on applications withdrawn, and for money paid in by mistake, as per statement marked A.

The expenses of the office during the year 1847, are as follows, viz: For salaries $16,350; temporary clerks, $6,937.57; contingent expenses, $8,657.77; compensation of the chief justice of the District of Columbia, sitting on appeals from the commissioner of patents, $100; library, $1,049.58; agricultural statistics, $465; amounting, in the whole, to the sum of $33,559.92, as per statement marked B.

There was also expended during the last year, under the act of March 3, 1837, for the restoration of records and drawings, the sum of $310, as per statement marked C.

The aggregate of expenditures under the difficult heads above enumerated, is $41,878.35; leaving a balance, to be carried to the credit of the Patent Fund, of $21,232.84.

On the first day of January, 1847, the amount of money in the treasury, to the credit of the Patent Fund, was $186,565.14; which, with the balanced paid in during the year 1847, will, on the first day of January, 1848, amount to the sum of $207,797.98.

It will be seen, that the surplus carried to the credit of the Patent Fund, during the last year, is much greater than that of any former year. This arises from two causes, first, the great increase of applications for patents and caveats over any former year; and secondly, the inability to examine and decide upon applications in a reasonable time after they have been filed in the office, growing out of the inadequacy of the examining force of the office, causing a comparatively less number of withdrawals, and a comparatively less amount of expenditure for copying and recording patents. If Congress should authorize the increase of the examining corps, so imperatively needed, the number of withdrawals will be greater and the other expenses of the office will be increased, and thus the balance next year, will be, in all probability, much smaller than it is this year.

All moneys paid into the treasury on account of the Patent Office, are set apart by the ninth section of the act of July 4, 1836, and the fourteenth section of the act of March 3, 1837, for the benefit of the Patent Office, and denominated the Patent Fund; out of which all expenditures provided by existing laws are to be paid, the Patent Fund being especially appropriated for that purpose. By thus establishing the Patent Fund, and appropriating it to the special object of defraying all expenditures of the Patent Office authorized by law, Congress expressed its intention to constitute the office upon the principle of a self-sustaining institution, which is to exist upon its own revenues, and not depend for support upon the general treasury. Thus far, it gives me pleasure to say, the intention of Congress has been fully carried out, the office having not only paid its own expenses from its own revenues, but it has accumulated a comparatively large balance in the treasury to its credit. With the exception of the cost of erecting the present Patent Office building, to which the office contributed $108,000, from its own funds, it has never been a charge upon the treasury.

Nearly all of its revenues are derived from inventors. It is sustained by their contributions; its services are appropriated to the promotion of their particular interests, although rendered to all other interests when required; and it may, therefore, truly be regarded as the head and representative of the inventive genius and the industrial arts of the country.

The annual reports of the two principal examiners, addressed to the undersigned, giving a view of the inventions and improvements which have passed their respective desks, are annexed, marked D and E.

To these two important reports attention is particularly called. They give an interesting summary of the scientific operations of the office during the past year, thus presenting in a small space the most conclusive and gratifying proofs of the progress of our countrymen in the improvement of the useful arts. It will be seen from the two papers referred to, that the year just past has been fruitful of inventions of a most important and valuable character, if they have not been of that novel and brilliant description which sometimes surprise and startle the world, at the same time benefiting it by their great utility.

The peculiar circumstances of society in this country growing out of its settlement -- very recent when compared with the age of other civilized portions of the earth, and imposing the necessity of subjugating the forest, of smoothing down the rugged face of nature, and of planting upon its bosom the arts of industry, which have rapidly germinated and developed themselves into great and important interests, now flourishing with a vigor and energy which enable them to become the formidable rivals of similar interests of older nations -- have tended to stimulate the inventive genius of our people to the production and improvement of machines and processes of an utilitarian and labor saving character, rather than to the pursuit of more scientific discovery. Hence, while we may be behind other countries in the discovery and development of scientific principles, we are probably equal with, if not in advance of them, in their application to the useful purposes of life. But, if the genius of our countrymen is not now so much absorbed in the investigation of abstract science as that of the citizens of older and more opulent countries, the circumstance of society so rapidly improving by the steady tide of prosperity which sets in our favor, will soon place us in a condition to contribute our share to the sum of knowledge which the combined genius and labors of the learned of all civilized nations annually bestow upon mankind.

It will also be seen, on reference to the Examiners above referred to, that the labors of those two officers are of a very varied and complicated character, embracing in their range the whole field of invention, and requiring a thorough knowledge of every branch of science, as well as the state, past and present, of the arts in all countries. From this fact the talents and attainments requisite for the able discharge of the duties appertaining to their desks may be readily inferred. It may be safely assumed that there is no office in the Government, the duties of which are of a scientific nature, which requires more mental capacity, or more close and intense application, than that of Examiner of Patents. It would, therefore, be reasonable to suppose that there would be attached to that office, a salary commensurate with its duties and the talent and attainment which it requires. But, so far from being the case, the Examiners now receive but $1500 per annum, a sum paltry in comparison with the abilities and qualifications which they must possess, very much below the salaries paid to persons filling stations requiring scientific attainments of an inferior grade, and only equal to the common clerkships in the offices of the Capitol, and the weighers, measurers, and gaugers of the Custom Houses. My predecessor in his last report, called the attention of Congress to the inadequate salaries allowed to the Examiners in this office, and respectfully recommended an addition to be made in that branch of its service. In the two reports which I have had the honor to submit to Congress, I have expressed my concurrence in the recommendations of my predecessor; and from the action which has already taken place in the two branches of that honorable body, I am encouraged to hope that it will not be long before justice is done to that valuable class of officers, whose merits and claims I now commend to its favorable consideration.

The necessities and embarrassments under which the office is now laboring on account of the want of an adequate scientific force to perform its greatly increased business, impose upon me the duty of earnestly but respectfully soliciting the prompt action of Congress for its relief. A brief statement of facts will show the absolute necessity of an addition to its scientific corps.

By the act of July 4, 1836, reorganizing the Patent Office, the Commissioner of Patents was allowed but a single Examiner. By the act of March 3, 1837, he was authorized to appoint another Examiner. And by the act of March 3, 1839, he was authorized to appoint two Assistant Examiners. Thus, within a period of three years from the reorganization of the office, there were two principal and two assistant examiners provided for by law; since which time no addition has been made, because none has been authorized.

In 1840, the first entire year after the last addition to the examining corps was provided for, the number of applications for patents was 765, the number of caveats filed was 228, and the number of patents granted was 475.

During the year 1847, the number of applications for patents was 1,531, the number of caveats filed was 533, the number of patents granted was 572, and the number of applications rejected was 557.

Thus it appears that the business of the office has increased one hundred per cent since the last addition was made to the examining corps in 1839.

In the year 1844, the year preceding my appointment to the office of Commissioner, the number of applications for patents was 1,045, and the caveats filed 380. In 1845, the number of applications was 1,246, caveats 452. In 1846, the number of applications was 1,272, caveats 448. And in 1847, as before stated, the number of applications was 1,531, caveats 572. Thus since my appointment to the office of Commissioner of Patents, the business of the office has increased in the ratio of 33 per cent.

During the five years commencing with 1840, and ending with 1844, embracing the five last years preceding my appointment to the office of Commissioner, the amount paid into the treasury to the credit of the Patent Fund was $25,200.43. During the three years since my appointment, the amount paid into the treasury is $37,018.72, showing an increase of surplus over expenditures in a much greater ratio than 33 per cent.

In 1844, the business of the office was quite equal to the ability of the examining corps to perform it, and in anticipation of the early necessity of an addition to that branch of the service of the office, my predecessor in his last annual report suggested that such addition would soon be required. During the last three years it has far transcended the capacity of the examiners to do it as it should be done, or to do it at all, and hence it has accumulated until it has produced serious embarrassment to the office, and very great injury to the interests of the inventors. The office is now seven or eight months in arrear of its business, and is daily becoming more and more embarrassed.

In view of the increasing accumulation of business and the consequent embarrassment of the office, I called the attention of Congress to its condition and recommended an immediate addition to its scientific corps in my report of January, 1846. Before the close of the session of 1845-6, anticipating from the great amount of more important business then pending before Congress, that the necessities of the Patent Office might be overlooked, I again called the attention of Congress to the subject by a letter addressed to the Committee on Patents of the Senate, dated June 10, 1846. Congress, however, adjourned, without taking any action for the relief of the office.

In my report of January, 1847, I again repeated my request for an addition to the examining corps, pressing in urgent but respectful terms the embarrassments of the office growing out of its increase of business, and the absolute necessity of the adoption of suitable provisions for its relief. The session being about to close, without, as I apprehend, any action for the relief of the office, I again brought its embarrassments and necessities before both houses of Congress by duplicate letters addressed to their respective committees having the interests of the Patent Office in charge, dated February 17th, 1847. At that session a bill passed the House of Representatives providing, among other things, for an addition to the examining corps; but failed in the Senate for want of sufficient time to act upon it.

The embarrassments of the office continuing, and greatly increasing in consequence of its rapidly accumulating business and the want of an adequate force to execute it, at an early day after the commencement of the present session, and in anticipation of my annual report, again by a duplicate letter addressed to the Committees on Patents of the House and Senate, dated December, 1847, respectfully but earnestly requested the interposition of Congress for the relief of the office, by providing for an adequate increase of its examining corps.

Thus have I, in five separate communications to Congress and its appropriate Committees within the last two years, made full expositions of the embarrassed condition of this office growing out of its greatly increased and increasing business, and the inadequacy of its force to perform its duties.

In view of these facts, I am confident that the Patent Office cannot be held responsible for the embarrassments and delays which exist in one of the branches of its service. I am conscious that the inventors by whose contributions this important institution is sustained, have grievous cause of complain on account of the disappointments and injuries which they suffer from the delays which their business is compelled to encounter in the Patent Office, but I am confident their enlightened liberality will appreciate the earnest and persevering efforts which have been made by the undersigned to remove the just causes of their complaints, and that they will patiently wait the action of Congress for their relief, which, it is gratifying to know, may be confidently anticipated before the close of the present session.

In my former reports have recommended a change in some of the features of the patent law as it now exists. For the nature of those recommendations, and the reasons on which they are founded, I would respectfully refer to the annual reports of this office, for 1845 and 1846. In my judgment the changes proposed are necessary to give adequate security to that valuable and meritorious class of our citizens engaged in inventive pursuits. As the law now is, the remedies which it affords to patentees are, in most cases, inadequate to the protection of their rights and the prevention of infringement upon them by that unscrupulous and unprincipled class of persons, who make it a practice willfully to depredate upon patent rights, and who, from the basely criminal character of the offense which they commit, are stigmatized by the application to them of the infamous epithet of pirate. Certainly, adequate protection should be given to the honest inventor who devotes his substance and his incessant toil for the benefit of society, against the freebooters who invade without scruple his property, which, to him, is more sacred and invaluable, because it is the cherished creation of his own genius.

Unfortunately, property in patent rights is not generally looked upon by society in the same light in which property existing in other forms is regarded. This results, perhaps, from the fact that many useless inventions have been patented, by which the public have been imposed upon and deceived. If such be the fact, it does not in any respect affect the general principle upon which not only property in inventions, but all rights of property, are founded.

Nobody doubts the right of property which a man has in his lands, houses or common chattels; and all agree that he has a right to claim from the government under which he lives, protection in the enjoyment of his property. Nay, so careful is the government itself of the sacred right which every citizen has in his own property, that it never takes it from him without giving him an adequate compensation for it. The necessities of the government are, in certain emergencies, supreme over the rights of its citizens, and, by virtue of its right of eminent domain, it can take the property of its citizens for the public use. But in all civilized countries, in which the immutable principles of morality and justice prevail, governments never take the property of their citizens and appropriate it to their own use, without first giving an adequate compensation for it. This sacred immunity from unjust invasion of private rights, even by the sovereign power of the state, is secured in all the constitutions, national and state, of this confederacy. They recognize the inviolability of private property, and provide that it shall be taken only for the public use, and then only upon the condition that an adequate indemnity to be first awarded and paid.

It is upon this very principle that the law is founded which provides that property in patent rights shall, on certain conditions, pass from the inventor into the possession of the public, after the lapse of a fixed term of years. Our whole patent system, having its origin in the constitution itself, is built upon the recognition of this absolute right of the inventor to the exclusive enjoyment of the productions of his combined genius, labor and capital. It regards such a description of property as the law does all other descriptions, as sacred and inviolable, in the possession and enjoyment of which the owner has the right to claim protection. But it subjects it, as it does all other descriptions of property, to the necessities and uses of the body politic, on the return of a fair and just equivalent.

The inventor having the sole control over his invention, may use it in secret if he pleases. He is not bound to disclose it to the public, and the public has no right to its use except by purchase, unless he should voluntarily surrender it. If the community should get the possession of an invention in any other way, it could only have surreptitiously obtained it. Hence, in order to induce him to disclose it, and to permit the public ultimately to enjoy it in common with himself, the government, representing the community, offers him the exclusive enjoyment of his property during a term which it supposes will be sufficient to enable him to obtain from its sale to others, an ample remuneration for his time and expenses in producing it. Therefore, upon strict principles of justice and equity, he is entitled to complete protection in the enjoyment of his rights during the term limited, and if he is not thus protected, the contract is in effect broken on the part of the government; and if such a contract, expressed or implied, existed between man and man, it would, if thus broken, be declared a nullity, and the inventor would be remitted to the enjoyment of his original rights, or exemplary damages by way of compensation would be given to him. And this system is just and equitable to the inventor as well as to society.

There are ample reasons why private and exclusive property in inventions should cease, and the inventions themselves become a part of the common property of the national body politic. If it were not the case, but, on the contrary, if the inventor and his representatives were to be protected in the perpetual enjoyment of his discovery, improvements in a great measure would cease, and advancement in the arts and manufactures would be greatly retarded, to the detriment of the best interests of society.

Therefore it is necessary and just that discoveries, inventions, and improvements in science and the useful arts, should, under proper circumstances, be taken from the inventor and appropriated to the public use, upon the condition that the proprietor shall be justly remunerated for this surrender of his private rights for the benefit of the paramount interests of the community. Hence, while recognizing his absolute right of property in his invention, and promising him protection in the enjoyment of it, as other citizens are protected in the enjoyment of their property, subject always to the superior necessities of the public interest, the patent system provides that the patentee shall enjoy the exclusive monopoly in the use and sale of his invention for the term of fourteen years. It supposes that he will be adequately remunerated for his invention in that space of time, and that at the end of it, it will be just and equitable that his property in his invention should cease, and that it should pass into general use. It adopts this mode of compensating him for the appropriation of his private rights to the public use, instead of appraising the value of his invention and awarding to him a specific sum in money for it, as is done in the public appropriation of other descriptions of property. And there can be no doubt that this is the best and wisest method that has yet been devised to compensate the inventor; best for him, and best for the public. As his compensation depends upon his own efforts, he makes every exertion to perfect his invention, and introduce it into general use, during the term to which his exclusive right is limited. Thus does this wise policy benefit both the inventor and society.

But while his exclusive property in his invention exists, it must be conceded that the inventor has a right to demand of the Government, the most ample security and protection in its enjoyment. This security and protection he does not, under our present imperfect system, enjoy. On the contrary, the difficulty and expense, and the absolute impossibility, in some cases, of vindicating his rights, have rendered the present laws enacted for his protection, almost absolute nullities. To reedy this imperfection in the existing system, is the object of the amendments of the patent laws, proposed in the two former reports of the undersigned.

While the steam engine, most potent of all the creations of genius, is daily coursing before our eyes, wafting as upon the wings of the wind its precious freight of human life, and its countless treasures of industry and commerce; while the mysterious telegraph speeds our thoughts with the swiftness of lightning which is its obedient and trusty messenger; while magnificent manufactories stud our land, stunning but delighting us with the never-ceasing movement of their wonder-working machinery, it seems unnecessary to remark upon the incalculable value of the labors of the inventor and his claims upon society for protection in the enjoyment of his rights. And, sooner or later, the undersigned is confident they will be fully recognized and protected by the enlightened legislators of a great republic, whose progress has been so much accelerated by their genius and enterprise.

In my last report, I had the honor to suggest the propriety of reducing the duties now exacted from foreign applicants for patents to the same rate of duty required of American citizens, when it should appear that the governments to which such foreign applicants belonged, had made corresponding reductions in the charges and fees now imposed upon the applications of citizens of this country for patents granted within their respective jurisdictions.

Upon more mature reflection, I have arrived at the conclusion that the interests of this country would be best promoted by reducing the duties on all foreign applications to the same amount now required of its own citizens.

In the first place, no such invidious distinction is made by other governments between the applications of their own subjects, and those of American citizens. It is indeed true, that the duties charged for patents by most of the governments of Europe, are very high compared with those charged by the government of the United States upon its own citizens. But the same duties are charged by foreign governments on all alike, whether native or foreign, without any discrimination in favor of one or the other. This policy is liberal and enlightened, and worthy of emulation by a great and generous nation; a characteristic which, it is hoped, may be always justly claimed for the United States.

But, if high and magnanimous sentiments of justice are not sufficient to induce the repeal of the unjust discriminations which our laws make and enforce against foreign inventors, and it is necessary to appeal to the lower and less respectable considerations of self-interest, it may, I think, be clearly shown that this country would derive from it a benefit infinitely transcending the paltry revenue which it derives from the few foreign inventions which are patented here. The great expense which attends the procuring of patents in most of the governments of Europe, and particularly in Great Britain, prevents the patenting of many valuable inventions which are never voluntarily made public, but are used in secret at home, and of course, rarely become known in other countries. If our laws permitted the patenting of such inventions on the same terms on which patents are granted to American citizens, many of those inventions which are deemed worthy of patents abroad, even at the great expense on which they can only be obtained, would be patented and introduced into use here. The great extent of our territory, its growing population, and its rapid increase of wealth, offer promises of reward to the foreign inventor which can be found in no other country. To induce him to come here, we have only to place him upon the same footing, and to grant to him the same privileges, which our own countrymen enjoy. We should, by such a wise policy, increase our means of emulating and rivaling other nations in the arts and manufactures.

Nor would it be injurious to our own citizens engaged in inventive pursuits, for it fortunately happens, that there is no competition or conflict of interest among inventors, each exploring a new and untried field of experiment, and each aiming to discover principles and combinations which have never been before known.

During the year 1847, there were but twenty applications for patents from foreigners, upon which the aggregate sum of $8,800 was paid into the treasury. Of course, if they had each paid but the sum of $30,the fee charged upon applications of citizens, the sum would have been but $600. To supply the deficiency in the revenues of the office, which will be occasioned by the charges proposed in reference to foreign inventors, it would be necessary to look to other sources than those at present provided. The sum of $3,000, could be obtained by authorizing the charge of a moderate fee for recording assignments, a service which the office now performs, without compensation, for a class of persons a great majority of whom are the last to be exempted from contributing to its support. A much larger sum might be obtained by a repeal of that provision of the law which authorizes a repayment of twenty dollars on the withdrawal of an application for a patent that has been rejected, which would operate beneficially to the Patent Office and to the public, by preventing many applications for inventions of doubtful utility and value. A very considerable increase of foreign applications might also be reasonably anticipated, which would contribute to supply the deficiency occasioned by a reduction of the present duty charged upon such applications. Thus, from all these additional sources of revenue, the office would not only sustain itself, but would be able to add to its vigor and efficiency of action as the increase of its business might require.

It is hoped that these considerations may induce Congress to deliberate and favorably to act upon the proposition for a change of the existing law, in relation to foreign inventions, which is now respectfully submitted.

The rapidly increasing number of applications for patents afford convincing proof of the wisdom and sound policy of the present patent system of the United States. The very low terms on which patents can be obtained in this country, when compared with the cost of obtaining them under most other governments, encourage attempts at discovery and improvement, not only in the higher branches of the arts, but also in the most humble. Hence, the inventive mind of the country is busily at work in all its various grades, daily bringing forth valuable improvements and contributing to the means of comfort and enjoyment in all the ranks and conditions of social life. This office, standing in a position from which it can contemplate the whole field of discovery, can mark, from year to year, the great progress of our countrymen in the sciences and arts, and their application to the varied industrial pursuits in which our people are engaged.

Nor is the genius of our countrymen confined to the invention and improvement of valuable machines and processes of manufacture. Stimulated by our present imperfect law of designs, their attention and efforts are turned to the production of the beautiful in form as well as the valuable in use. This result is daily becoming more and more visible in numerous articles and manufactured fabrics, the designs and patterns of which are now patented under the law of designs. Hence, it encourages the hope that our countrymen will soon be able to compete with the ingenious artisans of other countries, in those fabrics and manufactures which not only require a high state of perfection in machinery, but also the production of those beautiful and pleasing forms, figures and designs which adapt and recommend certain kinds of manufactured articles and fabrics to the taste and fancy of the consuming portion of the community.

It will be recollected that no appropriation was made by Congress for the Report upon the state of Agriculture, for the year 1846, and none accordingly was made. At the last session the usual appropriation for the collection of agricultural statistics was made, which duty has been performed, and its results are contained in the paper annexed, marked F.

On account of the interruption of the agricultural report in 1846, and the consequent suspension of the investigations in which this office was then engaged, and the abandonment of all the efforts which it was then making, and means which it had in its possession to obtain information, the undersigned has had much difficulty in resuming this branch of his duties. Yet, it is believed that the estimates of the crops for 1847, now submitted, will approximate very nearly to the real quantities produced. If they should be defective in any respect, as they must of course be, perfect accuracy being unattainable, they will be found to err on the favorable side; that is to say, they will be found to be below the actual results.

On examining the tabular estimates annexed to the report, it will be seen that, while some of the crops inferior in value and amount, have remained nearly stationary, or perhaps slightly diminished, the great staple products of agriculture have steadily increased; thus furnishing, as usual, ample provision for domestic consumption, and an additional surplus for exportation. It will be perceived that the corn and sugar crops have largely increased since the last estimates of this office were submitted to Congress, which was for 1845. The wheat, cotton, potato, rice, tobacco, and oat crops have not increased so rapidly, although they exhibit a very satisfactory addition to their aggregate amounts. On the whole, the husbandman has reason for gratitude to Providence for the additional abundance which it has during the past year beneficently bestowed upon him.

The season which has just passed has been generally favorable to the growth and maturing of the maize crop, but not so favorable for wheat. The former crop requires hot and comparatively dry weather, while a more humid atmosphere, and cooler temperature are more favorable to the growth and development of wheat. Therefore when the season is less favorable for one crop it is more so for the other. And thus, while one crop may partially fail from causes adverse to its growth, the other is sure to be benefited and increased by the very same causes; thereby securing ample provision against famine and dearth, unless sent by special visitation of Providence.

It should not, however, be forgotten that one great source of supply for human food has been mysteriously and alarmingly smitten. For some years, the potato has been visited with a malady, the cause and remedy of which, it has baffled the sagacity of man to discover. Although almost innumerable theories have been advanced to account for the plague which has seized upon the potato, the secret still remains hidden from the scrutiny of human intelligence. The disease progresses both in this country and in Europe, threatening the entire destruction of that important article of food for man and beast, and when and where its destructive course shall be stayed, belongs not to human wisdom or human effort to determine. While, from the abundance of other articles of sustenance, the partial loss of the potato crop has caused no suffering, and but little embarrassment, in this country, in other countries, its destruction has brought in its train a frightful amount of starvation and distress. The deprivation and suffering which it has inflicted on the people of other countries, have revealed the great resources of this, and demonstrated its capacity to supply the wants and demands of other nations to any extent which can be reasonably anticipated. It was, indeed, a spectacle grateful to humanity, and sublime to contemplate, to see our fertile and prolific country opening its rich stores of agricultural products to feed the famishing millions of other nations, and to arrest the strides of appalling and inexorable famine which was sweeping them by thousands to the grave; selling to those who had the means of purchasing, and generously giving, without money or price, to those who had not.

The quantity of grain of all kinds estimated in bushels, exported during the commercial year ending August 31, 1847, was 41,273,998 bushels. Of this quantity, 19,768,579 bushels was wheat, and 20,690,664 bushels was Indian corn; the remainder being rye, barley, and oats. And yet this large quantity sent to foreign countries, did not exhaust our surplus products by millions of bushels. On a tour through several of the States bordering on the great western lakes, the remains of the crops of 1846, filled to overflowing, and all the avenues of transportation choked up with the immense quantities which were pouring through them to the Atlantic coast to seek markets abroad. It will not exceed the truth to say that the surplus of grain in this country, and particularly of maize, is sufficient to meet any demand which all the corn producing countries of Europe combined can make upon us under any probable circumstances. The limits of supply beyond our own consumption, are, from the smallest quantity up to two hundred millions of bushels, if demanded by the wants of foreign nations. The only difficulties to be encountered, would be the inadequate means of transportation from the interior to the coast, and ships to carry our surplus product across the Atlantic. Already the wheat crop equals 114,000,000 bushels, and the maize crop about 540,000,000. The former could, in the course of two or three years, be increased, and the latter could be increased to the amount of more than 100,000,000 bushels, if the foreign demand should be sufficient to induce so great an expansion of that branch of agricultural production.

The quantity of grain imported into Great Britain in 1847, was 10,840,000 imperial quarters, or 86,720,000 bushels. The exports of grain from this country during the same period, nearly equalled one-half of that amount, and most of it was carried to Great Britain and her dependencies. If returns, which are daily expected from Europe, shall be received in season, a full exposition of the corn trade between this country and that portion of the world, together with an estimate of the probable demands of Europe during the present year, will be made in one of the appendixes to this report.

An estimate of the value of the principal crops produced in the United States during the year 1847, will also be appended.

In surveying the agricultural productions of the Union, we are not only struck with their abundance, but with their great variety and value. Its territorial domain extends from the frigid regions of the north to the genial climate of the tropics, affording almost every variety of temperature, and every kind of grain and vegetable. In the north we have rich and abundant pasturage, giving forth the valuable products of the flock ad dairy; in the middle and western regions of the Union, corn in all its varieties is produced in superabundant quantities; and in the south, rice, cotton and sugar grow luxuriantly, and nearly all in sufficient quantities to supply our domestic consumption, and furnish large surpluses for exportation, thus furnishing nearly all the value as well as bulk of our foreign commerce. When contemplating the extend and the value of its products, the number of persons engaged, and the capital employed, the agriculturist may well believe that agriculture is the great transcendent interest of the Union, upon which all other interests are dependent.

And he has equal reason to console himself with the honorable character and exalted dignity of the pursuit in which he is engaged. No occupation offers a greater field for experiment, and for the application of science directed by sound judgment. Experience has proved that every grain, vegetable, and fruit, is susceptible of improvement by scientific cultivation. Science and skill have converted the potato from a half poisonous root to a valuable article of human food. They have wrought the same magic transformations upon the apple, peach, and many other fruits and vegetables. Science investigates the nature of soils and manures, and develops the elements of plants, thus pointing out the means by which soil, manure and plant may be adapted to each other and more abundantly reward the labor and skill of the husbandman. And to crown all, genius stoops from its lofty flight to lessen the burthen of his toil, and mitigate the severity of his labors, by conferring upon him useful implements and valuable machines. Truly may agriculture be called the mother of the arts, the most honorable and the most prolific of good to the world, to which all other arts pay grateful homage, and with which science itself seeks honorable association. May agriculture be ever cherished by the American citizen as the interest of his country greatest in honor, dignity, and importance, and constituting the very foundation of its independence, wealth, and power.

A portion of the sum appropriated for agricultural purposes has been applied to the purchase of seeds for distribution; some of which are of new varieties, although not so many as desired. The interruption of the agricultural labors of this office in 1846,and the difficulty of establishing agencies abroad, by which new seeds could be obtained, have prevented the procuring of many from other countries. Yet the varieties which will be distributed are believed to be valuable, and worthy of introduction into those portions of the country in which they are not generally known and cultivated. The quantity distributed will more than equal that of any former year, and will exceed sixty thousand packages. A portion of them has been presented to the Patent Office by the Minister of Agriculture and Commerce of France, through the generous intervention of that well known and philanthropic gentleman, M. Vattemare, to whose glowing enthusiasm, and untiring perseverance in the noble scheme of national interchange, of which he is the projector, this country, and particularly this office, are greatly indebted. Suitable acknowledgements and returns will of course be made.

The undersigned has also to acknowledge his obligations to his predecessor, the Hon. Henry L. Ellsworth, Charles Cist, Esq., Nicholas Longworth, Esq., and others, for able and valuable papers upon various subjects which will be found in the appendix to this report.

I also take great pleasure in bearing especial testimony to the very able manner in which Charles L. Fleischmann, Esq., formerly employed in this office, has prepared for the use of this office, the results of his observations during his tour in several of the countries of Europe, and particularly in Germany, in the summer of 1845. A portion of the results of his observations will be found in his very interesting article upon the management of sheep, wool-growing, agricultural schools, and many other subjects appended to this report.

It is doubtless well understood that the agricultural report of this office is limited, by the appropriation by which it was authorized, to four hundred pages. Especial pains have been taken to prevent its exceeding that limit. Yet, as it is impossible to determine the quantity of matter it will require to fill four hundred printed pages, it may fall short of, or may somewhat overrun that number. If the latter shall be the case it will, of course, devolve upon the respective Houses of Congress to determine whether or not the surplus matter shall be printed.

As the internal commerce of the Union, transportation on canals and rail roads, and the interior trade of cities, have an important relation to agriculture, I have endeavored to collect some statistics upon those subjects, which will be found embodied in one of the papers in the appendix to the report. The limited means at my disposal, and the difficulty of reaching the sources from which information in relation to such subjects can be derived, will, of course, account for the comparatively meager and unsatisfactory results which are presented in the paper referred to. But they will serve to show, to some extent, the vast amount of the internal commerce of the Union, and the benefit which would result from full and accurate information upon that important subject.

In view of the great emulation and rivalry of nations in manufactures, trade and commerce, which mark and distinguish the present age, it is of the utmost importance, that those who are called to preside over the political and economical interests of great communities, should thoroughly inform themselves of their resources and elements of power. Without this knowledge the legislator and statesman are but poorly qualified for the high trusts which they are appointed to execute. Therefore, in many of the enlightened countries of Europe, plans and systems have been devised and organized, through the instrumentality of which, comparatively accurate returns of the annual products of labor and capital employed in the various branches of industry in which their citizens are engaged, are obtained.

In this country no such system has been organized; yet, it is believed, one might be, with very little expense and with very beneficial results. Much, however, would depend upon the co-operation of the individual states of the Union for the success of such a plan. It would not be difficult to obtain returns approximating to accuracy, of the industry of any state, if its legislature were to require by law the assessors of taxes or other appropriate officers, to take a census every year, when they were performing their other duties, of the capital and products of all the important interests, agricultural, manufacturing, mining and commercial. The enquiries should embrace every pursuit and every product; in agriculture, the quantity of land cultivated and appropriated to each crop, the amount of each crop, of the dairy, etc., etc. In manufactures, mining and commerce, they should embrace the amount of capital employed; the quantity and value of raw material consumed, and of products; wages of labor; in short, everything, which would tend to show their extent and importance. These returns, analyzed and condensed by some officer of the State Government, appointed for the purpose, and then transmitted to some appropriate bureau of department of the general government, and there embodied in the form of tables, would each year present a rent roll or income sheet, which would surprise by its results, and exhibit at a glance the vast resources of the republic.

In some of the States this plan has been partially adopted, and the result has been most gratifying. In 1845, Massachusetts caused such an investigation to be made of the products of its capital and industry, and the result exhibited an aggregate value of $114,478,443. It is a proud monument to the intelligence, enterprise and energy of her people. Other States could doubtless exhibit an income sheet quite as flattering, if they would take the pains to procure the materials with which to make it up.

I have been informed that a bill has been introduced and is now pending in the Legislature of Louisiana, providing for the establishment and organization of a bureau of statistics. It is ardently hoped that the measure may be carried, and that the example which will be thus set in Louisiana,resulting from an enlightened view of the importance of her great interests, agricultural and commercial, will be speedily followed by other States of the Union. All have industrial interests of sufficient importance to justify the establishment of such a bureau in their respective governments.

I have the grateful satisfaction of acknowledging the receipt of a very valuable donation of books which have been bestowed upon this office by the Minister of Agriculture and Commerce, and other high official persons connected with the French Government, and by several of the institution and societies of the city of Paris, which were presented through the intervention of that distinguished and indefatigable philanthropist, M. Alexandre Vattemare, so honorably known as the founder of the system of national interchange. Receiving the donation in the spirit in which it was bestowed, namely, for the noble purpose of cultivating and cherishing sentiments of friendship and amity among nations, I deemed it to be my duty to make, as far as it was in my power, a fit and appropriate recognition of the gift. I have therefore caused to be prepared for deliver to M. Vattemare, and presentation to the several officers of the French Government, and the institutions of Paris, and to several of the cities of France, copies of the reports of this office, which will hereafter be forwarded to them from year to year. I have also caused to be prepared, especially for the office of the Minister of Agriculture and Commerce of France, drawings and descriptions of the most valuable inventions and improvements which have been patented at this office during the last year.

I am also informed by M. Vattemare, that the Minister of Agriculture and Commerce, in furtherance of the system of national interchange, has consented to make preparations for a fair to be held in the city of Paris, at some time in 1849 to be hereafter appointed, for the exhibition of the products of American genius and skill. To that fair the American inventor, manufacturer, and artisan, will be invited to send models and specimens of machines, fabrics, and manufactured articles, and ample provision will be made to receive and exhibit them conspicuously. It is also proposed that, at some suitable time, a similar exhibition shall take place, of specimens of the genius and skill of the inventors, manufacturers, and artisans of France, in one of the cities of the American Union. Of course the accomplishment of this grand design will require cordial co-operation of the citizens of both countries. It is hoped and believed, that the concurrence and aid of our ingenious countrymen will not be withheld from this novel and interesting experiment.

In conclusion, I would respectfully invite the attention of Congress to the necessity of enlarging the Patent Office building. Already, the rooms appropriated to the reception and arrangement of the models, have become so crowded as to prevent their proper classification, and to cause serious embarrassment of the office. And, if Congress should authorize the increase of force required in the scientific department of the office, there will not be a sufficient number of convenient and suitable rooms for the accommodation of the official corps. It is, therefore, suggested,that provisions be made at the present session for the construction of the two additional wings contemplated in the plan of the Patent Office adopted by Congress. As it would take two or three years to complete them, the accommodation which they would furnish, would be very much needed long before they could be completed. If the National Gallery were appropriated to the use of the Patent Office, the necessity of the enlargement of the Patent Office building above recommended, would not be so urgent. But as that spacious hall is now principally occupied by the articles belonging to the Exploring Expedition, which were directed by an act of Congress to be deposited there, and will continue to be thus occupied until the completion of the edifice of the Smithsonian Institution, it cannot be appropriated to the use of the Patent Office for some years. In view of this fact I have deemed it my duty to recommend an early appropriation for the enlargement of the Patent Office Building.

By the act of March 3, 1837, relating to the Patent Office, the Chief Justice of the District of Columbia was constituted the appellate tribunal of the office, to which appeals from the decision of the Commissioner of Patents have since been taken. From that time down to the present many appeals have been taken from the decisions of the Commissioner, and decided by the Chief Justice, who has sustained his decisions by able and elaborate opinions, involving important principles of patent law. In the judgment of the undersigned, the publication of those opinions are important for the information of persons doing business at the Patent Office. I have therefore appended a copy of them to this report, to be published or not, as may by either house be considered expedient.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Edmund Burke
Commissioner of Patents

To the Hon. R.C. Winthrop
Speaker of the House of Representatives



Statement of receipts for patents, caveats, disclaimers, improvements and certified copies, in 1847

Amount received for patents, caveats, 
  disclaimers and improvements             $61,217.50
Amount received for copies                   1,893.69
Deduct paid on withdrawals, and money 
  paid in by mistake, refunded               8,008.43




Statement of expenditures and payments made from the Patent Fund, by the Commissioner of Patents, from January 1 to December 31, 1847, inclusive, under the act of March 3, 1839, viz.

For salaries                               $16,350.00
For temporary clerks                         6,937.57
For contingent expenses                      8,657.77
For compensation of district judge             100.00
For the library                              1,049.58
For agricultural statistics                    465.00


Statement of expenditures on the restoration of the Patent Office, under the act of March 3, 1837; viz.

For restoring the records and drawings                    $310.00

Amount of receipts from all sources        $63,111.19
Amount paid on withdrawals, as per 
  Statement A                               $8,008.43
Amount paid for salaries, etc., as per 
  Statement B                               33,559.92
Amount paid for restoration of records, 
  etc., as per Statement C                     310.00
                                          ____________ $41,878.36

Leaving a net balance to the credit of the Patent 
  Fund of                                              $21,232.84

Balance in the treasury to the credit of the Patent 
  Fund, January 1, 1847                                186,565.14

Balance in the treasury, to the credit of the Patent 

Fund, January 1, 1848                                 $207,797.98


Extracts from report of Charles G. Page, Examiner of Patents

Rocking Chair and Fan -- a labor saving device under this title has been patented, which presents some novelty, and promises much comfort to the luxurious. A fan is so attached to the chair that the rocking of the chair vibrates the fan.

Inhalation of Ether -- This discovery and the invention patented in 1846, and noticed in the report for that year, has circulated through the civilized world with greater rapidity than any other improvement of the day. Numerous attempts have been made, in England and on the continent of Europe, to claim priority in this invention, but thus far the entire merit of originality and priority belongs to our own countrymen.


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