Request for Transcribers: Eli Whitney and the manufacture of muskets for the War Department

February 19th, 2014

Patent law was nothing like it is today.  This in part explains why Eli Whitney’s cotton gin did not bring him much money.  In fact, for much of the 1790s, Whitney  was consumed with patent infringement lawsuits.  Financially desperate,  he turned to the manufacture of muskets for the War Department. As it turned out, this was not much of a success either.  Whitney was supposed to complete the manufacture of over 10,000 muskets by 1800, but didn’t finish delivering the arms until 1809. In this 1798  document, the Secretary of Treasury requests that Samuel Hodgdon provide musket stocks for Whitney.