America the inventive

More from Age of Edison, on why the U.S. surpassed Europe in invention:

Europeans often conceded that Americans displayed a remarkable aptitude for invention, particularly in the field of labor-saving devices. The country had not produced many philosophers, as one Englishman put it, “but her practical men may be numbered by the hundreds. If a Yankee has an idea, he likes to put it into practice. He is not content to read a paper, and let someone else work out his theories.” Pioneers in industrial innovation, the British still made better products, and sold the world many more of them. But they conceded, with evident concern, that “it is from America that all the new inventions come to us.”

…As one educator put it, “very great inventiveneness” had become a defining national trait…

Many explained America’s inventiveness as a by-product of its expanding market and its chronic labor shortage…

Others attributed American inventiveness to the nation’s more democratic educational system…

Americans were fast passing the Old World in technological creativity, many argued, because the U.S. economy offered these rewards not just to a small educated elite and those who inherited titles of nobility, but to all those entrepreneurs who served their fellows through the marketplace… In a variation on the American dream, some people joked that every true American man would feel ashamed to go to his grave without at least one patent to his name.

(Pages 144-154.) Here’s my previous post on the book.

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