THE BESSEMER AND KELLY PATENTS.
The Bessemer patent for the United States was issued November 11, 1856 ; but on a trial of interference at our Patent Office, between Mr. Bessemer and William Kelly, of Eddyville, Kentucky, it was decided that Mr. Kelly was the prior inventor, and a patent was accordingly issued to him on the 20th of January, 1857.
Messrs. Winslow, Griswold & Holly, of Troy, New York, have obtained rights under Mr. Bessemer's patents for the United States ; while the Wyandotte Steel Com pany of Detroit, Michigan, are operating under the Kelly patent. Between these parties, or rather between Mr. Bessemer and Mr. Kelly, an important law-suit is now pending, which will determine the priority and relative rights of the patentees, and perhaps fix the tithe or tribute which our steel-manufacturers must pay to England for the next generation.
It is now nearly ten years since we first saw Mr. Kelly's process tried, and it was then acknowledged practical and valuable ; but the uncertainty of the manufacturing interests, and the slight encouragement given to our iron-industry, had, and has, so crushed its spirit of enterprise that but few of our iron-masters are willing to risk the expense of adopting new improvements, and none that cared to experiment with new inventions until they are forced to, as in the present instance, by the developments which invention and improvement have made in England.
We must either stop manufacturing steel or follow her example, and even then we cannot make steel in competition with her cheap labor, perfected improvements, and vast capital. Nothing will avail us but the protection afforded by war or tariffs ; and no sensible man will court the former when the latter is so much more available, econo mical, and safe ; but better the former than no protection to our industry.
The following letter from the Superintendent of the Wyandotte Company of Detroit, in relation to the manufacture of steel by the Kelly process, under rights granted by our Patent Office, after a full consideration of the priority of invention and relative claims of both Kelly and Bessemer, demonstrates practically that we are under no obli gation to swell the vast revenues of Bessemer or pay tribute to England. The inven tion of Josiah M. Heath made the pneumatic process practical, and is really the only original and scientific part of the invention : the subsequent operations are merely mechanical, and there are many ways of accomplishing the object. But Bessemer pays no royalty to the heirs of the unfortunate Heath. The steel-manufacturers of Sheffield pirated his patent rights, and, though they made forty per cent. by the ope ration, they confederated for the purpose of defrauding the truly worthy inventor ; and though England has saved many millions of pounds per annum by this original inven tion, she gave no reward to the man who rendered her so important and valuable a service, and has turned a deaf ear to the prayers of his family.
The researches and inventions of the scientific and able Mushet have also rendered great and important service to the pneumatic process now known in England as the " Bessemer," by his experiments to ascertain the proper alloys and combination of other metals with iron to give it the necessary quality for the production of steel. But Mr. Bessemer entirely ignores the claims of Mushet, and treats him as his predecessors treated Heath.