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An improvement in the construction of a Carriage to be propelled by the mechanical powers - 1794

U.S. Patent issued to John J. Staples (25 April 1794)

    John Staples, Jr. (born c. 1768) was granted letters patent signed by George Washington dated 25 April 1794, for what the inventor described as "An improvement in the construction of a Carriage to be propelled by the mechanical powers."

    Although all records of the U.S. Patent Office were destroyed when the building burned on 15 Dec 1836, details of this invention remain printed on page 67 in the 18 Nov 1848 issue of Scientific American.  The magazine editor stated that "This patent is for a Locomotive, but not a steam one, and in comparison with the mode in which specifications have now to be made out, it presents a very great contrast." The magazine reprinted the full details of the patent:

The Schedule referred to in these Letters Patent, and making part of the same, containing a description in the words of the said John J. Staples, Junior, himself of an improvement in the construction of a Carriage to be propelled by the mechanical powers.

    General description of a travelling Carriage, which is to move without the power of horses, carrying from 2 to 4 persons, requiring the labor of one of which to regulate its movement—wilI ascend any hill that is accessible to common carriages, moving with great rapidity, and as in every respect as manageable as those drawn by horses, its velocity being increased or lessened at pleasure by the application of the five following powers as occasion may require. The first power, which is the greatest, is the weight of the whole carriage with whatever is contained therein, which is raised up by the oval wheels in turning round, and when descending acts on the shortest lever. 2d Power is the weight of the top frame which supports the carriage body with its contents, which being likewise wound up by the said oval wheels at the same or a different time acts in descending on the two next size levers and is the next greatest power. 3d Power is the carriage body which being fixed on 4 friction rollers vibrates as a pendulum acting on the two longest levers. 4th. Is the weight of the person who regulates the motion acting likewise on the ends of the said 2 long levers and is the first motion the carriage receives. 5th. Is an occasional power which is gained when descending a hill by winding up two springs placed under the carriage which also acts with great force on the ends of the aforesaid two long levers when rising a hill.
    JNO. J. STAPLES, JR.          
        SAM’L. FOLWELL,
        GEO. TAYLOR.

The magazine also printed the text of the Letters Patent as signed by George Washington:


    To all to whom these Letters Patent shall come
    Whereas John J. Staples, Junior, a citizen of the State of New York, in the United States, has alleged that he has invented a new and useful improvement in the construction of a Carriage to be propelled by the mechanical Powers, which improvement has not been known or used before his application; has made oath that he does verily believe that he is the true inventor and discoverer of the said improvement; has paid into the Treasury of the United States the sum of thirty dollars, delivered a receipt for the same and presented a petition to the Secretary of State, signifying a desire of obtaining an exclusive property in the said improvement, and praying that a patent may be granted for that purpose: These are therefore to grant, according to law, to the said John J. Staples, Junior, his heirs, administrators or assigns, for the term of fourteen years, from the twenty second day of the present month of April, exclusive right and liberty of making, constructing, using, and vending to others to be used the said improvement, a description whereof is given in the words of the said John J. Staples, Junior himself, in the schedule hereunto annexed, and is made a part of these presents.

IN TESTIMONY WHEREOF, I have caused these Letters to be made Patent, and the Seal of the United States to be hereunto affixed.

Given under my hand, at the City of Philadelphia, this twenty-fifth day of April, in the Year of our Lord, one thousand seven hundred and ninety four, and of the Independence of the United States of America the eighteenth.
Go. WASHINGTON.               

By the President, EDM. RANDOLPH.
City, of Philadelphia, TO WIT:

I DO HEREBY CERTIFY: That the foregoing Letters Patent, were delivered to me on the 25th day of April, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and ninety four, to be examined; that I have examined the same and find them conformable to law. And I do hereby return the same to the Secretary of State within fifteen days from the date aforesaid, to wit : On the same 25th day of April in the year aforesaid. WM. BRADFORD.

John J Staples, Jr. acquired at least eight patents in the period 1794 and 1824:

The patent information was published by the Scientific American of 18 November 1848 (Vol  4 old series, No 9, Page 67) as part of a tribute to John J. Staples in recognition of his accomplishments:

An Old Patent and an Old Inventor.

    The inventor who has received a patent subscribed with the handwriting of Washington, must feel proud indeed in the possession of such an instrument. Such a man is John J. Staples of the city of New York, who is the oldest living inventor holding a patent in the United States, and perhaps the oldest living patentee in the world. We publish the following patent from respect to the memory of the departed great, and the worth and genius of the honored living. Many of our readers will esteem this great curiosity and valuable relic, and will desire to know something of the inventor himself, whose inventions are associated with the name of "the Father of his Country." Mr. Staples is now about 80 years of age and his head is whitened with the snows of many winters. His eye is still bright and his mental faculties clear. His step to be sure is less firm than of yore but his body is still erect and stately. Mr. Staples is an inventor who has had the honor of securing a patent from every President of the United States, except the lamented Harrison. He has a patent which we have seen, given under the handwriting of President Thomas Jefferson, for a Tidal Wheel to propel machinery, and the first invented in the United States.