Report on the Petition of Francis Bailey
February 23d. 1790
[Communicated on February 23, 1790]1
[To the President of the Senate]
Pursuant to the Order of the Senate of the United States of the 22nd. of February instant, referring the Petition of Francis Bailey to The Secretary of the Treasury2
The said Secretary Most respectfully reports
That he has received from the said Francis Bailey, a communication of the Invention to which he alludes in his petition.
That it appears to him difficult to decide, to what extent that Invention will afford the Security against Counterfeiting, which is the Object of it.
That nevertheless he is of opinion, it will be likely to add to the difficulty of that pernicious practice, in a sufficient degree, to merit the countenance of Government, by securing to the Petitioner an exclusive right to the use of his Invention.
That with regard to the employment of the Petitioner to print such papers of a public nature, as may require precautions against Counterfeit; this, in the Judgment of the Secretary, ought to remain a matter of discretion, to be regulated by the success of the experiment and the convenience of the Public.
All which is humbly submitted
Secy of the Treasury
DS, RG 46, First Congress, 1789–1791, Report from Secretary of the Treasury, National Archives.
1. Annals of Congress description begins The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States; with an Appendix, Containing Important State Papers and Public Documents, and All the Laws of a Public Nature (Washington, 1834). description ends , I, 985–86.
2. On February 2, 1790, Robert Morris, Senator from Pennsylvania, “presented the petition of Francis Bailey, upon his new inverted method of making types, which was read.” On the same date, the petition was committed to a committee consisting of Morris, Ralph Izard, and John Langdon. On February 22, “Mr. Morris, in behalf of the committee” reported, and the petition was referred to H (Annals of Congress description begins The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States; with an Appendix, Containing Important State Papers and Public Documents, and All the Laws of a Public Nature (Washington, 1834). description ends , I, 979, 985). Bailey sent the same petition to the House of Representatives, and on January 29, the House acknowledged “a petition of Francis Bailey, of the city of Philadelphia, printer, praying that an exclusive privilege may be granted him, in the use of an invention which he has discovered, of forming types for printing devices to surround or make parts of printed papers for any purpose, which cannot be counterfeited.” The House referred the petition to a committee which reported on February 3, “That Mr. Bailey hath communicated … his invention or device to prevent the counterfeiting of public papers …” and recommended that the petition be referred to H. H’s report, received by the House on February 23, 1790, has not been found. On February 26, it was ordered “That a bill or bills be brought in for securing to the said Francis Bailey an exclusive privilege to the use of his invention …” (Journal of the House, I description begins Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States (Washington, 1826). description ends , 149, 151–52, 162, 164). The House bill was sent to the Senate on March 2, and the Senate, two days later, resolved that the consideration of the bill “be postponed until a ‘bill to promote the progress of useful arts’ shall be taken into consideration” (Annals of Congress description begins The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States; with an Appendix, Containing Important State Papers and Public Documents, and All the Laws of a Public Nature (Washington, 1834). description ends , I, 987–88). No further action was taken on this bill.