Inventors and Patents From the City of Thornton
Inventors and patents are often equated with success, but there is a difference between invention and success. In Thornton, the longest time between filing for a patent and its grant was 187 days. The invention that Darrell Shaw patented, a thermodynamic terminator, was approved Sept. 28, 2021.
Thornton’s practice differed from the law
Laurie Thornton is a practicing attorney with Glankler Brown PLLC and Memphis Area Legal Services (MALS). Her work with MALS has focused on real estate transactions, estate issues, and collection matters. She is a native Memphian and attended the Hutchison School and the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. She later earned a law degree from the Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law at the University of Memphis.
Thornton’s single-handed defense of the Patent Office
In the early 1800s, William Thornton served as the superintendent of the Patent Office. During his tenure, he discouraged patent applications for inventions he considered to be “copies,” and issued many patents to himself. On some of these patents, he was listed as a co-inventor, even though the inventions in question were not his own. Ultimately, the scandal resulted in a reorganization of the Patent Office, and a ban on Patent Office employees taking out patents.
In 1813, the Patent Office was threatened by British troops. They were retaliating for the American attack on York, Canada. They destroyed many public buildings in Washington, but Thornton’s efforts saved the Patent Office from destruction. As a result, the British abandoned the city in 1814.
Thornton’s efforts to protect the Patent Office prompted several opinions from the Attorney-General. The Patent Office’s practices have continued to change, with the Patent Office becoming one of the world’s leading institutions of ideas. It is now the largest and most influential intellectual property office in the world.
The Patent Office is the proto-agency that grants government-sanctioned property rights to dispersed inventors in a wide variety of industries. But when private investment or transactions occur, the Patent Office is typically out of the way. This is a necessary compromise to protect the patent system.
The Patent Office shares similarities with the General Land Office. Both were created to address complex problems brought on by rapid industrialization. As a result, the Patent Office’s evolution and structure parallel each other. Its size increased, patent examiners became more numerous, and officials with extensive experience in granting procedure were drafted onto expert dispute resolution boards.
Thornton’s design for Washington City Race Course
Thornton’s designs for private homes and the Washington City Race Course are well known in the District of Columbia. One such example is the Hillman House, located at B and C streets on North Capitol Street. The house was originally designed for General Washington and still stands today. Thornton’s work is notable for the interior woodwork, which he praised for his skill. He also mentions an old sketch of the exterior design. Washington himself did not purchase the land until 1798, but he still commissioned Thornton to design the house.
While Thornton had the support of fellow commissioners who were ignorant of architecture, he was able to stop any changes to his design by writing. His handwritten plan corresponded with the elevation drawings of the American Architectural Foundation. The handwritten plan showed a 340-foot frontage.
Thornton was a dedicated republican whose philosophy was a mix of Enlightenment and Quaker humanitarianism. He was also an abolitionist. His abolitionist activities brought him fame in Philadelphia, where he led a group of free black Americans to Sierra Leone. Thornton’s abolitionist work was viewed favorably by Philadelphia’s Quaker establishment. His efforts were also known to James Madison, who lodged at Mrs. Mary House in Philadelphia and knew of Thornton’s abolitionist activities.
The design for the Washington City Race Course is an example of Thornton’s artistic talents. The sculptor’s talent and vision are a combination of fine arts and medical knowledge. Thornton was influenced by the works of other artists. His interest in anatomy and composition influenced his work. He also attended lectures at the Royal Academy.
Thornton did not have formal training in architecture. His initial design consisted of a large Georgian mansion with a six-column portico. In fact, Thornton personally carried the original plan to Philadelphia to discuss it with the Washington administration, where he learned that the commissioners wanted a new plan. Washington also wanted a dome, as he liked the Pantheon.