Abstract: The Democratization of Invention in the American South: Antebellum and Postbellum Technology Markets in the United States

William H. Phillips


Patenting expanded rapidly across the postbellum South as its transportation network filled in and city growth extended markets. This was consistent with the findings of Kenneth Sokoloff and Zorina Khan, who demonstrated the elastic supply of patentable ideas in early America. Successful innovation required that inventors could or did sell their property rights through "assignment" to those who commercialized new technology. The assignment characteristics of 1912 southern patents were examined for this essay. Southern "border" state patents had a higher rate of marketable assignments than those issued to residents in the Deep South. Greater commercialization of patents in border state cities accounted for most of this difference.

BEH On-Line Paper