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Confederate Invention

The Story of the Confederate States Patent Office and Its Inventors

by H. Jackson Knight

Conflicting Worlds: New Dimensions of the American Civil War

416 pages / 6.00 x 9.00 inches / 3 halftones, 12 line drawings, 2 maps

ebook available

Military History | Civil War | History of Science

  Hardcover / 9780807137628 / June 2011

The formation of the Confederate States of America involved more than an attempt to create a new, sovereign nation--it inspired a flurry of creativity and entrepreneurialism in the South that fiercely matched Union ingenuity. H. Jackson Knight's Confederate Invention brings to light the forgotten history of the Confederacy's industrious inventors and its active patent office.

Despite the destruction wrought by the Civil War, evidence of Confederate inventions exists in the registry of the Confederate States Patent Office. Hundreds of southerners submitted applications to the agency to secure patents on their intellectual property, which ranged from a "machine for operating submarine batteries," to a "steam plough," to a "combined knapsack and tent," to an "instrument for sighting cannon." The Confederacy's most successful inventors included entrepreneurs, educators, and military men who sought to develop new weapons, weapon improvements, or other inventions that could benefit the Confederate cause as well as their own lives. Each creation belied the conception of a technologically backward South, incapable of matching the creativity and output of northern counterparts.

Knight's work provides a groundbreaking study that includes neglected and largely forgotten patents as well as an array of other primary sources. Details on the patent office's origins, inner workings, and demise, and accounts of southern inventors who obtained patents before, during, and after the war reveal a captivating history recovered from obscurity.

A novel creation in its own right, Confederate Invention presents the remarkable story behind the South's long-forgotten Civil War inventors and offers a comprehensive account of Confederate patents.

H. Jackson Knight is a registered United States patent agent with more than twenty-five years experience in all phases of technical development and patenting. He previously authored the book Patent Strategy for Researchers and Research Managers (2nd ed.) and has produced numerous articles and other publications on the patenting of inventions.

Praise for Confederate Invention

“An important story....Knight builds surprising and valuable stories around the Confederate patents and their inventors.”—Reviews in American History

“[This] study promises to be a comerstone for further research into the history of southem technology.”—Harold Wilson, Journal of Southern History

“Confederate Invention [is] a useful contribution to the literature on patents and invention.”—Journal of American History

“[A] remarkable record of southern invention and inventors during the war....Any students of the Civil War who have wondered about the scientific efforts that went on behind the lines in the Confederacy will be informed and fascinated by this extraordinary book.”—Civil War Monitor

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