Crucibles: The story of chemistry by BERNARD JAFFE



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The result was a classic case of the injustice of which so many inventors complained: his equipment, so simple and superior, became standard within a few years, but even with a patent he was unable to collect royalty fees from all those who used it. It was a matter of succeeding too well. His illustrated book, The Young Miller and Millwright’s Guide, presented such a cogent argument for the process that many country millers were persuaded to try it. And with the help of Evans’s drawings, every country carpenter could install the machinery.

The charming story of Squanto, the friendly “Indian” who taught the Pilgrims to place a fish in each hill of corn, appears to be largely myth. There is no supporting evidence that Native Americans used this method, and it seems unlikely that fish would have been so wasted. As it turned out, Squanto had lived some years on the Iberian Peninsula where this practice was common. He had also lived in London, where he had learned his English. As the colonists began taking the fertility of the new land for granted, they placed increased emphasis on the production of staple crops for sale—an emphasis often insisted upon by English stockholders and most obvious in the tobacco-growing South.

The British army, not much used in the colonies until 1755, hit upon the tactic of attacking undefended villages and fields. When the warriors were thus forced to mass themselves for defense, the European troops used their disciplined bayonet charge to carry the day. The bayonet, assimilated into European warfare since the 1640s, was a deadly new weapon alien to Native Americans. Gradually, they were driven back to lands not yet coveted by the Europeans. That move and various European diseases —which alone cut the Native American population from seventy thousand in 1600 to twelve thousand seventy-five years later—were unmitigated disasters.

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