Patent History Materials Index - Extracts from CIS Unpublished U.S. House of Representatives Committee Hearings, Select and Special Committees, 1863-65(38)HS-T.1 thru T.6

Testimony at Congressional Investigation of Commissioner Holloway

Extracts from CIS Unpublished U.S. House of Representatives Committee Hearings, Select and Special Committees, 1863-65(38)HS-T.1 thru T.6
(Card 1 of 1) Microfiche

February 16th, 1865
Members present
Mr. Higby, Chairman
Mr. Frank
Mr. Cravens
Mr. Ancona

Andrew Whiteley, called, sworn & examined

By the Chairman

1. Where do you reside? -- In Springfield, Ohio

2. Have you any acquaintance with Mr. Holloway, the Commissioner of Patents? -- Yes sir, so far as these charges are concerned.

3. Are you personally acquainted with him? -- Yes sir, and I have been since early in the spring of 1861, when he entered upon the duties of the Office of Commissioner of Patents.

4. Are you the person whose name is signed to a series of printed charges made against him? -- I am.

5. Do you prefer these charges against the Commissioner of Patents? -- I do.

6. Are these charges, or any portion of them, founded on your own knowledge? -- Yes sir.

[Copy of the printed charges:

Fraud and Corruption in the Patent Office!


To the House of Representatives:

Your petitioner, a loyal citizen of the United States, being interested as an inventor and patentee in the proper management of the business of the Patent-Office, and being satisfied that the business of said office has been improperly and dishonestly conducted by the present Commissioner and Chief Clerk, respectfully asks your honorable body to cause a thorough and searching investigation thereof to be made; and especially with reference to the following points, upon which your petitioner charges malfeasance and mismanagement by the parties aforesaid.

1st. The employment and retention of disloyal persons, knowing them to be such.

2d. Refusing to investigate charges of disloyalty against said employees, when made by loyal parties.

3d. Threatening to discharge loyal persons for exposing the disloyal, on the ground that such exposure tended to injure him (the Commissioner) who appointed and retained them.

4th. Improperly expending the funds of the office, by appointing and paying persons who performed no duties, or but nominal ones.

5th. Causing the applications of inventors to be examined by mere temporary clerks, having no knowledge of the business, instead of Examiners, as provided for by law and the rules of the office.

6th Compelling Examiners, by an arabitrary order, to sign files, and pass cases, which they had never examined, and knew nothing about.

7th. Granting extension of patents, in violation of law and the rights of other inventors and the public.

8th. Causing extensions to be granted upon a report made by a temporary clerk, who protested he knew nothing of the duties -- the report in such case being made under the dictation of the Chief Clerk, who caused the first report thus made to be destroyed, and another substituted in its place -- and that report then sent off to a distant State to be signed by an absent Examiner.

9th. Willful and gross violation of the rules of the office to the great injury of the applicants, by giving special orders to have certain cases to take precedence of others, filed long before.

10th. Willfully and improperly delaying the examination of cases, by allowing certain Examiners to be absent more than half the time, and placing their labors upon others already burdened.

11th. Suppressing the truth, and refusing to inform applicants when their cases would be examined -- the delay in such cases being caused as above stated.

12th. Improperly and illegally re-issuing patents already improperly extended.

13th. By mismanagement, granting patents to one person for the same thing upon which a patent had been previously refused to another applicant.

14th. Willful violation of the office rules, by giving information strictly forbidden by such rules, whereby great injustice has been done to applicants, and much unnecessary expense incurred.

15th. Abstracting and suppressing portions of the records.

16th. Being interested in the sale of inventions, in violation of the spirit and letter of the law.

17th. Obtaining the signature of the Secretary of the Interior to patents which he had ordered to be stopped on account of alleged frauds, by false representations.

18th. Appointing and retaining men to act as Assistant Examiners whom both the Commissioner and Chief Clerk pronounced as utterly incompetent and unfit for the position.

19th. Defrauding the Government by deciding that revenue stamps were not required on papers, where such stamps were expressly required by law.

20th. Willful mismanagement of the business of the bureau, whereby its efficiency is greatly hindered, and its expenses unnecessarily increased.

21st. Gross mismanagement in the matter of photographing the drawings of patents issued under the law of 1861.

22d. Violating all law, justice and respect for his word, by refusing to grant a reissue to the entire assignee of the patent, for the reason that exclusive grants under it had been made. Then insisting, verbally, to the assignee, for a long time, that he should get the patentee to apply for the reissue, as then there would be no objection to granting it, and in the name of the assignee. And then, after refusing for nine months to give any written answer, turns square round and tells the assignee, by letter, that the patentee, with a full assignment from him, would be but a partner of the grantees, and therefore could procure no reissue, unless they joined with him, although he had previously reissued the patent without their consent, and they had never elected to hold under it.

23d. Declaring that the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia should not rule his office so long as he remained Commissioner.

24th. Treating with contempt the command of said Court to him, until compelled or be attached by it.

25th. Squandering the patent fund, his own private funds, or those furnished hi by others in an endeavor to get rid of obeying the decision of said Court, by appealing from their decision to the Supreme Court of the United States, and then causing all the delay he can in the hearing of his appeal.

Many of the above facts your petitioner knows of his own personal knowledge, and all of them he is prepared to prove by competent and reliable witnesses, if an opportunity is offered through a committee of the House.

My residence is Springfield, Ohio. My place in this city is 447 Pennsylvania Avenue, where I expect to remain for a month of more.

Andrew Whiteley


City and County of Washington, }
In the District of Columbia - } ss
On this 3d day of February, 1865, personally appeared before me. Benj. S. Kinsey, a Justice of the Peace, Andrew Whiteley, the signer of this petition, and made solemn oath that he believes the above charges of misconduct to be true.
Benj. S. Kinsey, J.P.

[end of printed copy]

7. State what you know in reference to the first charge? -- During the summer of 1862, the exact time I cannot specify, but at the time that word came here that Richmond was taken by our armies, I was in the room of Mr. McCormick, one of the clerks in the Patent Office. I went in there early in the morning to examine the files of the Office. When I went in, as near as I recollect, he was engaged in a conversation with a lady who said that her husband was in the rebel army, and, she supposed, at Richmond. The lady was talking with Mr. McCormick, getting his sympathy. The conversation was very low and broken at times and I could near and retain only a part of it. I heard this much distinctly that she was a lady whose husband was in the rebel army and Mr. McCormick was consoling her in her situation. She then observed to him again that the report was that Richmond was taken. He observed that such was not the case; he hoped not at least, it would be a great loss if such was the case.

8. What transpired between Mr. McCormick and this lady? -- That is about the substance, probably, of all I could gather from the conversation. It lasted some minutes. I took my seat behind a desk where I always examined the files, and there I was waiting to have the file given to me.

9. Is Mr. McCormick in that office now? -- He was some two days ago.

10. Was Commissioner Holloway present during that conversation? -- No sir.

By Mr. Cravens

11. What part of that conversation did you regard as disloyal? -- The observation that he hoped Richmond was not taken; that it would be a great loss if it was.

By Mr. Ancona

12. You heard that remark distinctly did you? -- Yes sir, I did and those words are just about the amount I did hear.

By the Chairman

13. Did you know who the lady was? -- No sir.

14. Do you know from any thing that passed in that conversation whether she was loyal or disloyal? Did you hear her say anything more than that her husband was in the rebel army? -- No sir, I did not.

15. The only conversation you heard from her took place between her and Mr. McCormick? -- Yes sir, that is all.

16. Did you ever see her before? -- I do not know that I ever saw her before, or since.

17. Do you know where Commissioner Holloway was at that time? -- No sir, he was not there.

18. Have you any acquaintance with Mr. McCormick? -- Yes sir; I have been acquainted with him for six years -- since 1858.

19. Has your acquaintance with him been entirely of a business nature? Yes sir.

20. Have you had any outside acquaintance with him? -- No sir, none at all.

21. Did you, in your business connection with him have any conversations with him, or he with you, in reference to the rebellion and our present troubles? -- No sir; not that I recollect of.

22. You never broached the subject to him or he to you? -- No sir, I think not. McCormick is a reserved man in conversation and I am not an easy man to get acquainted with a man of that character.

23. Did you at any time hear him say anything about the subject, except what he said to this lady? I did hear him talk with a man who was a sympathizer with the rebel army, but I did not hear enough to put a sentence together. From the few words I could catch I gathered enough to satisfy me that such was the fact.

24. And the only time during your acquaintance that you ever heard him speak upon the subject of the rebellion and our troubles, was this conversation with this lady? -- Yes sir.

25. You say that you cannot answer in reference to the latter portion of the first charge, included in the words "knowing them to be such"? -- I cannot.

By Mr. Cravens

26. Did I understand you to say distinctly that you only heard a portion of that conversation? -- I heard distinctly the words I have stated, but I did not hear the whole conversation; it was in too low a voice.

27. You could not hear the conversation in which that remark was made? -- I have designed to gave the words of the conversation as I heard them, as nearly as I can. I could not give the whole conversation for some times it was broken from my ear.

By Mr. Ancona

27. [again] Might you not, in the tone in which the conversation was conducted, have misunderstood the application of the remark that he would sorry for it? Might he not have meant that he was sorry this lady's husband was in the rebel army? -- I could not have been mistaken in that.

By Mr. Cravens

28. What did he mean by saying it was a great loss? -- When he said he hoped Richmond was not taken, that it would be a great loss, I understood him to refer to the rebels.

29. You seem to have been present upon other occasions in an attitude in which you were not a party to the conversation; how did you happen to be present upon this occasion? -- Mr. McCormick's room is the room in which are kept the files from which I obtain the information necessary in my business, and I have to go there to get it. My business in the Patent Office has been chiefly in that room.

30. After hearing this conversation, and this impression being produced upon your mind that this party was disloyal, did you communicate the fact to Mr. Holloway, the Commissioner of Patents? -- No sir.

By the Chairman

31. I see that in your subsequent and more detailed statement submitted to the committee, you state that S[?] Bosworth is a disloyal person. Do you know that of your own knowledge? -- I cannot state it from my own knowledge..

32. Are any of the other persons named by you disloyal, such within you own knowledge? -- No sir, but I expect to prove it.

33. Then on the first clause you have given all you know of you own knowledge? -- Yes sir.

34. Do you known anything, personally, of the second charge? -- No sir.

35. Anything of the third charge? -- No sir, not personally.

[This testimony goes on, but has nothing that I find particularly interesting concerning history of the Patent Office. Continued at next session.]

February 18th, 1865
The committee met at ten o'clock A.M.
Members present
Mr. Higby, Chairman
Mr. Frank
Mr. Cravens
Mr. Ancona
Mr. Norton


78. What was the decision? -- The Court decided that I was not entitled to a reissue of the patent.

79. What then occurred? -- I then went to Mr. McCormick, the then acting chief clerk for receiving appeal applications.

80. What did you do there? -- I did what I understood all others do.

81. Did you apply for anything there? -- Yes sir, I presented my petition all drawn out in regular form, and presented my money, and asked to have the case carried up.

82. What answer did you receive? -- That I was not entitled to a reissue, and that the case did not admit of an appeal.

83. Who said that? -- Mr. McCormick.

84. Did you see Commissioner Holloway upon that occasion? -- I went into his room with Mr. McCormick, but my impression is that I received all the statements from Mr. McCormick.

85. He refused you an appeal? -- Yes sir.


92. How many cases have you had in the Patent Office since Mr. Holloway has been Commissioner? -- From six to twelve probably.

93. How many cases are there that you complain of? -- I do not think that I have had a case in reference to which I do not complain.


William C. Dodge called, sworn and examined.

By the Chairman

103. Where do you reside? -- In this city.

104. What is your occupation? -- At present I am patent agent, formerly I was an examiner in the Patent Office.

105. How long have you resided here? -- About five years.

106. Are you acquainted with Mr. Holliday [sic], the Commissioner of Patents? -- I have been since he went into that office.

107. Are you acquainted with Mr. Andrew Whiteley? -- Incidentally by seeing him here, and in the Patent Office. I have no other acquaintance with him.

108. There are some twenty five charges made by Mr. Whiteley against the Commissioner of Patents, have you read them? -- I had a copy handed me the other day, and I have examined it.

109. The first one charges the Commissioner with the employment and retention of disloyal persons, knowing them to be such. Do you know anything about that charge? -- Yes sir.

110. State what you know? -- I will state in the first place that I was residing in this city before the rebellion broke out. I had many friends and acquaintances and some relatives who were strong pro-slavery advocates themselves, and since have become secessionist and joined in the secession movement. Through them I became acquainted with a great many people whom I knew to be disloyal, some of whom were in the departments here. Soon after Lincoln's inauguration I made an effort to [?] some Senators and Members to take some precautions to get those men out of the departments. One case in particular was that of a man named Price, a clerk in the Senate, who resided three doors from me. I went to a Senator and told him the fact that I knew and that the whole neighborhood knew that he was not only a secession sympathizer, but was in correspondence with the rebels in Richmond. He replied to me that it was damned easy to make charges against a man when you want to get his place away from him. I told him I did not wish to get that place; that I was already provided for, that I gave him the information for a two fold purpose, first to get the man out of employment, and secondly to enable him to make a place for a man who had come on here for a place on his own telegram, and who had been residing here for six weeks.

111. Was this man in the Patent Office? -- No sir; I state this as merely preliminary to the whole matter.


[Dodge continued his witch hunt and vitriolic comments denouncingpeople, based largely upon what they don't say. The man was clearly holier than thou. He had been dismissed from the Patent Office by the Secretary of the Interior (according to Holloway) or by Holloway (according to Dodge). It seems that Mr. Dodge wanted Mr. Holloway to dismiss Mr. Bosworth from the Patent Office for disloyalty. Mr. Holloway considered the charges unfounded and refused. Mr. Dodge, while still a patent examiner, confronted Mr. Bosworth in the lobby and loudly denounced him as a traitor. By evening, the news was all over Washington, and acquaintances of Mr. Holloway were approaching him, asking if he was refusing to fire a traitor. Holloway called in Dodge and asked him if he had personally seen Bosworth do anything that was disloyal. Dodge said that he only knew what other people had told him. Holloway said that he was not interested in hearsay, but only direct evidence. Dodge said that those standards, neither he nor Holloway knew that Jefferson Davis was a traitor, because neither of them had observed Davis do anything disloyal. Holloway agreed that unless better evidence could be provided than either of them could provide, Jefferson Davis could not be called to answer for anything. He then told Dodge that Dodge was making Holloway look bad by making unsupported charges that Bosworth was a traitor, and that if he continued, Dodge would be fired. Apparently Dodge resigned just short of being fired, or perhaps he was fired.]

By Mr. Norton

127. I understood you to say that you referred Mr. Holloway to a couple of negroes as witnesses? -- Yes sir.

128. Did you refer him to any white men? -- Yes sir; to seven.

129. Were they in the employ of the department? -- Yes sir; seven white and two negroes.

130. Are these persons there now? -- I think nearly all of them are.

131. You named these to him? -- Yes sir.

132. Who were the persons you named? -- I named Smith, Crawford, I think, Dr. Jayne, Govr. Bebb, and the two colored men; the names of the others I do not now recall as this was nearly four years ago.

133. They were then in the department? -- Yes sir.


The Committee then adjourned to meet at seven o'clock this evening.

Saturday evening
February 18, 1865
The committee met pursuant to adjournment.
Members present
Mr. Higby, Chairman
Mr. Cravens
Mr. Ancona
Mr. Norton

William C. Dodge recalled.


138. The fourth charge is "Improperly expending the funds of the office, by appointing and paying persons who performed no duties, or but nominal ones.: What do you know about that? -- I know something about it.

139. State what you know? -- Dr. Doane who has been employed there during the last four years, and paid the full salary of an Examiner, has not been there more than one third or one quarter of the time during that four years.

140. Has he been out of the city? -- Yes sir, a large portion of the time. I was there three months, before I knew there was any such man belonging to the office.


142. Did you know of any other case of that kind? -- Yes sir, Harry Holloway, a son of the Commissioner. He was appointed and acted up stairs for a time, and was then put down stairs in the model receiving room, with a salary of $1,600 a year, while there were no duties for him to perform, or any duties of consequence.

143. How long has the son of Mr. Holloway been there? -- He remained there until he was appointed on General Meredith's staff.

144. About how long? -- About a year. I cannot say exactly for I do not know when he was appointed there. The records of the office will show the time.

By Mr. Ancona

145. Are the appointments actually made by the Commissioner, or by the Secretary of the Interior.? -- I believe the practice is to make the appointments by the Commissioner with the approval of the Secretary.

By Mr. Holloway

196. Did not Bebb, while temporary clerk, serve as examiner? -- I do not know.

By Mr. Norton

208. How long were you in the office after you signed these? -- These orders are dated in October 1863, and I resigned the first of April 1864.

[Discussion showing that, although not in official rules, it was the practice during Holloway's tenure to take cases out of order when requested by members of Congress or people high in the administration.]


R.W. Fenwick, called, sworn and examined

By the Chairman

459. Where do you reside? -- In Washington.

460. How long have you resided here? -- I was born here, but I have been in this city permanently only since 1857.

461. In what business? -- As patent agent.

462. Have you ever been employed in the Patent Office? -- Never.

463. Have you read the charges in this case? -- I have.

464. Do you know whether any of them or true or not? -- Under the fifth charge which is "Causing the applications of inventors to be examined by mere temporary clerks, having no knowledge of the business, instead of Examiners, as provided for by law and the rules of the office," I might say that I have known very competent assistant Examiners being appointed to fill the places occupied by Chief Examiners. -- That is to do the duty of first Examiners. Among these I would name Halstead and Addison, Mr. Smith, who are among the ablest men in the office.

465. Do you know of cases being examined by mere temporary clerks, having no knowledge of the business? -- No sir; but they always do examine mere questions, of force[?]. I know of no instances where they have passed upon cases.

Under the ninth charge which relates to taking up cases out of their order, I would say that is sometimes the practice of the Commissioner to give special orders for examination, particularly in fire-arms cases, or in cases relating to the government service. It is also sometimes done where parties come here at great expense with prospects of getting their patents immediately, and would otherwise have to remain here a long time at great expense.

466. By whom are the rules of the office made? -- by the act of 1852, I think, the Commissioner has power over the whole office to regulate its affairs. There may be some instances where cases, which had no special claims upon the office, have been passed out of their order. That that has always been done in the department, and it is common in all practice before the departments.

In reference to the matter covered by the tenth charge, I knew that Dr. Doane was absent, and I might state that I understood the reason to be, that he was attempting to raise a regiment. The second time he was absent he was conducting the Conn. Campaign.


468. How long have you been acting as Patent Agent? I have been connected with the business ever since I was thirteen or fourteen years of age.

469. Then you have been acting as Patent Agent ever since Mr. Holloway came into the office of Commissioner? -- Yes sir.

470. How frequent has been your business at the office? -- I have had continued business from day to day in connection with the office.

471. Coming in constant contact with Mr. Holloway and others in the office? -- Yes sir.

472. And yet all the matters relating to these charges, coming under your personal knowledge, is what you have stated here? -- Yes sir.

473. You say you have been employed in this business for years before Mr. Holloway went into office? -- Yes sir.

474. Did these things of which you speak also occur before Mr. Holloway was connected with the Office? -- Yes sir. When Col. French was examiner he passed, within two weeks, a patent upon his desk upon the same paper, and the question was asked whether the Patent Office was drunk. These things may occur oftener than they ought to, but I think the effort of the office is toward[?] such things, judging from the rejections I get, and the difficulty I have in getting patents through.


476. Were there any particular days, or hours in certain days of the week in which you alone had the privilege of coming before such examiner in person for the purpose of getting an understanding of your case, or making a [?] explanation with respect to it? -- I do not think that rule was in effect in 1864. There used to be a rule setting apart certain hours for agents to have conversations with the examiner, but I think that rule has been repealed. There has been no such rule apparent to me.

[There is a lot of material in this series which I have not transcribed, but I think I have everything which is useful for my purpose.]


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