The First 10 U.S. Patents

Illustration by James Poupard from "The young mill-wright & miller's guide : in five parts, embellished with twenty five plates" by Oliver Evans, of Philadelphia. Library of Congress, Wikimedia Commons//Public Domain
Illustration by James Poupard from "The young mill-wright & miller's guide : in five parts, embellished with twenty five plates" by Oliver Evans, of Philadelphia. Library of Congress, Wikimedia Commons//Public Domain

During the spring of 1790, the U.S. government passed the first patent law. It got off to a slow start—only three patents were granted that year. Things eventually heated up, though, and by 1836, the total had climbed to almost 10,000. With documents piling high, the government decided to protect all the paperwork in a new, fire-resistant building. Construction began, and they placed the files in temporary storage.

Which promptly caught on fire.

The blaze gutted the building and destroyed the records—despite there being a fire station right next-door. (It was December, and a wintry freeze mucked up the pumps.) Today—and some 8 million patents later—those documents are called the “X-Patents.” Although most of them are lost, we have a barebones record of what used to be there, giving us a peek into what America’s earliest inventors were up to.

Patent X1

Samuel Hopkins of Pittsford, Vermont snagged the first patent July 31, 1790. His invention improved “the making of Pot ash and Pearl ash by a new apparatus and Process.”

Patent X2

Joseph Sampson’s invention aided the “manufacturing of candles.” Later on, the Boston candle maker helped invent the continuous wick.

Patent X3

Oliver Evans of Philadelphia helped usher in the machine age, inventing an elaborate automated flour mill (top). Evans said the mill worked “without the aid of manual labor, excepting to set the different machines in motion.” (His most famous invention, though, may be the Oruktor Amphibolos, a whimsical looking dredge—and possibly the first self-powered amphibious vehicle.)

Patent X4

Francis Bailey was a Philadelphia-based printer with friends in high places, so it’s no surprise he landed a “punches for type” patent in 1791. Bailey, by the way, printed the first official copy of the Articles of Confederation.

Patent X5

Aaron Putnam’s invention improved the distilling process. Sadly, there’s no record of what he was distilling. He landed the patent just two months before the Whiskey Excise Act became law, the tax that sparked the Whiskey Rebellion.

Patent X6

John Stone of Massachusetts may have saved workers hundreds of man-hours after he invented a pile driver for bridges, which he patented March 10, 1791.

Patent X7 to X10

Philadelphia inventor Samuel Mulliken sweeps the last four spots with some versatile inventions, all patented the same day—March 11, 1791. His first invention was a “machine for threshing grain and corn.” His second invention helped break hemp, while his other two contraptions helped cut and polish marble and raise a nap on cloths.

Soon You'll Be Able to Book a Night Inside the Palace of Versailles

The exterior of the Palace of Versailles
The exterior of the Palace of Versailles
mtnmichelle/iStock via Getty Images

Beginning next spring, interested tourists can say au revoir to more traditional lodging in favor of spending the night inside the Palace of Versailles, as Thrillist reports.

Back in 2015, the palace’s management announced it was looking for an outside partner to convert three of the palace’s buildings into guest accommodations. That outside partner turned out to be Airelles, a luxury hospitality group with three other properties in France.

In 2020, the company will begin accepting bookings for Le Grand Contrôle, a 14-room hotel located in the palace’s south wing. The hotel will also feature a new restaurant from famed French chef Alain Ducasse, the second-most decorated Michelin star chef in the world.

Tourists beware, though: A single night at the company’s other properties generally cost upwards of $500 per night, so a stay at Le Grand Contrôle is unlikely to be cheap. But visitors who want to shell out the money for a room can look forward to an unbeatable location, first-class dining, and the joy of relaxing while telling others to “let them eat cake” (which Marie Antoinette never said, but it's befitting nonetheless).

[h/t Thrillist]

Further Reading: Books About (And By) Theodore Roosevelt

Alexander Lambert // Library of Congress
Alexander Lambert // Library of Congress

If you're enjoying what you're learning on History Vs. Theodore Roosevelt, we suggest checking out these books about—and a few of them by—our 26th president. Make sure to subscribe to the podcast here!

The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt by Edmund Morris

The first book in Morris’s trilogy covers TR’s years from birth to the vice presidency.

Theodore Rex by Edmund Morris

The second book in Morris’s trilogy covers TR’s seven years in the White House.

Colonel Roosevelt by Edmund Morris

The final book in the trilogy focuses on Roosevelt’s post-presidential years.

Theodore Roosevelt: A Strenuous Life by Kathleen Dalton

A fascinating one-volume biography of Roosevelt.

The Wars of the Roosevelts: The Ruthless Rise of America’s Greatest Political Family by William J. Mann

In addition to covering the big three Roosevelts—TR, FDR, and Eleanor—this must-read book features the Roosevelt siblings and cousins, revealing secrets and feuds within this famous family.

Theodore Roosevelt's Ghost: The History and Memory of an American Icon by Michael Cullinane

An analysis of Roosevelt’s legacy.

The Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America by Douglas Brinkley

A look at TR’s life from a naturalist perspective.

Island of Vice: Theodore Roosevelt’s Doomed Quest to Clean up Sin-Loving New York by Richard Zacks

A look at TR’s time as police commissioner of New York.

Theodore Roosevelt for the Defense: The Courtroom Battle to Save His Legacy by Dan Abrams and David Fisher

This book covers when Roosevelt was accused of libel, and took the stand in his own defense.

Guest of Honor: Booker T. Washington, Theodore Roosevelt, and the White House Dinner That Shocked a Nation by Deborah Davis

An account of the lives of Roosevelt and Booker T. Washington, and their relationship—including their dinner, which made history.

Theodore Roosevelt in the Badlands: A Young Politician's Quest for Recovery in the American West by Roger L. Di Silvestro

Di Silvestro’s book covers TR’s time as a rancher in the Dakotas, where he retreated after the deaths of his wife and mother and a rough end to his career as an assemblyman.

Mornings on Horseback: The Story of an Extraordinary Family, a Vanished Way of Life, and the Unique Child Who Became Theodore Roosevelt by David McCullough

This National Book Award–winning biography takes on TR’s early years.

The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt’s Darkest Journey by Candice Millard

An account of Roosevelt’s journey down an uncharted tributary of the Amazon—during which he almost died.

The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism by Doris Kearns Goodwin

A look at the relationship between Roosevelt and his successor, Taft, a one-time friend who became an enemy.

A Passion to Lead: Theodore Roosevelt in His Own Words by Edited by Laura Ross

Selections from Roosevelt’s writings accompanied by gorgeous photographs.

Hunting Trips of a Ranchman by Theodore Roosevelt

Roosevelt on hunting.

Ranch Life and the Hunting Trail by Theodore Roosevelt

Roosevelt on his time as a rancher in the Dakotas.

Theodore Roosevelt: An Autobiography by Theodore Roosevelt

This book, published in 1913, is Roosevelt's life in his own words.

Theodore Roosevelt: Letters and Speeches

This book features four famous speeches and more than 350 letters written by TR to family, friends, and diplomats between 1881 and 1919.

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