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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 523 pages of information about Famous Americans of Recent Times.
“one who recognized his peculiar endowment of inventive genius as a divine gift, involving a special and defined responsibility, and considered himself called of God, as was Bezaleel, to that particular course of invention to which he devoted the chief part of his life.  This he often expressed, though with his characteristic modesty, to his friends, especially his religious friends.  His inventive work was his religion, and was pervaded and animated by religious faith and devotion.  He felt like an apostle commissioned for that work; and he said to his niece and her husband, who went, with his approbation and sympathy, as missionaries of the Gospel to Asia, that he was God’s missionary as truly as they were.”

Nothing more true.  The demand for the raw gum, almost created by him, is introducing abundance and developing industry in the regions which produce it.  As the culture of cotton seems the predestined means of improving Africa, so the gathering of caoutchouc may procure for the inhabitants of the equatorial regions of both continents such of the blessings of civilization as they are capable of appropriating.

An attempt was made last winter to procure an act of Congress extending the vulcanizing patent for a further period of seven years, for the benefit of the creditors and the family of the inventor.  The petition seemed reasonable.  The very low tariff paid by the manufacturers could have no perceptible effect upon the price of articles, and the extension would provide a competence for a worthy family who had claims upon the gratitude of the nation, if not upon its justice.  The manufacturers generally favored the extension, since the patent protected them, in the deranged condition of our currency, from the competition of the foreign manufacturer, who pays low wages and enjoys a sound currency.  The extension of the patent would have harmed no one, and would have been an advantage to the general interests of the trade.  The son of the inventor, too, in whose name the petition was offered, had spent his whole life in assisting his father, and had a fair claim upon the consideration of Congress.  But the same unscrupulous and remorseless men who had plundered poor Goodyear living, hastened to Washington to oppose the petition of his family.  A cry of “monopoly” was raised in the newspapers to which they had access.  The presence in Washington of Mrs. Goodyear, one of the most retiring of women, and of her son, a singularly modest young man, who were aided by one friend and one professional agent, was denounced as “a powerful lobby, male and female,” who, having despoiled the public of “twenty millions,” were boring Congress for a grant of twenty millions more,—­all to be wrung from an India-rubber-consuming public.  The short session of Congress is unfavorable to private bills, even when they are unopposed.  These arts sufficed to prevent the introduction of the bill desired, and the patent has since expired.

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