TYPICAL AMERICAN INVENTIONS.
THERE is no more interesting or instructive chapter in the history of this country than that which concerns the development of the singular inventive power of our people. In all the other branches of thought and action we can trace this part of the intellectual work of our race for some centuries back in the progress of its civilization. The great increase in the readiness with which mechanical devices have been contrived is particularly characteristic of modern times. It is true that a certain measure of skill in dealing with natural powers is characteristic of the lowest savage, and it is one of the traits which strikingly separates man from the lower animals. It is even as true that all the stages of his advance from the lowest level of savagery have been to a great extent attended and accomplished by successive inventions; but this work went forward slowly until after the period of the middle ages. Even in the matter of weapons for use in war and in the chase--a class of objects which more than any other taxed the skill and ingenuity of early peoples--but little progress was made in the period from 4000 B. C. to the tenth century of our own era. Such inventions as clocks, printing, firearms, and other simple means whereby the interests of man were advanced by the use of natural powers, quickened the minds of people to the advantages which might be had through the exercise of the inventive habit. This stimulus, however, only operated in a slow manner, and the leaven had affected but few minds; and the accomplishments in the way of invention which had been attained at the time when the English colonies were planted in this country were inconsiderable in number. In the beginning of the seventeenth century there were probably not a dozen contrivances in common use among the people which would have seemed very novel to the educated people of Egypt two thousand years before the Christian era. At the present time every large city in the civilized world contains thousands of machines of more or less value to human society which were not dreamed of three hundred years ago.