The first patent in the young United States was issued on this date in 1790 to Samuel Hopkins of Vermont for a new method of making potash — useful in producing soap, fertilizer and glass. The Constitution recognized, for the first time in history, the intrinsic right of an inventor to profit from his invention. Hopkins’ application was initially reviewed by Thomas Jefferson and approved by President Washington. By 1802, the U.S. Patent Office was established to process applications. The office has been busy ever since. Annually, more than 244,000 patents are granted. Individuals receive 6 percent of patents — the remainder are granted to U.S. and foreign corporations, with slightly more granted to foreign companies. You can find more facts about America from the U.S. Census Bureau, online at <www.census.gov>.