Click to search the Andrew Heiskell Braille and Talking Book Library Skip Navigation

Haiti's Patent Law of 1826 - Solution and Wrap-Up


Last June, I made note of one of SIBL's patent pamphlets cataloged long ago as the Haitian Patent Law for 1826. I had my doubts about it, and wondered if anyone could help. Now, to wrap things up I thought I'd share some of what I learned here... and give an answer to the question "what is it?"

Hayti., Digital ID 1573185, New York Public LibraryThe document's title is Loi sur les patentes. Patente is not French for what in everyday speech we call a patent. As I should have known from seeing it elsewhere, "brevet d'invention" is the French equivalent of our patent. The word patente in French has more the meaning we give to the word "license" - which would make this document a licensing law. And that's what it is; a professional licensing law (taxation by any other name would be as sweet).

The law itself can be found in the compilation of Haitian laws, Recueil général des lois & actes du gouvernement d'Haiti..., Volume 4 published in 1865 (available online here). So what does SIBL have? If it were a U.S. Government document we would call it a slip law, the first (as, I expect, in this case) printing of the law for distribution to the public. Other copies? I will be delighted to hear if you can find any.

And what was the purpose of the law? Well, if you want you can wiki Haiti's series of confiscatory and oppressive laws from 1826. But if you desire a little better context, I'd like to offer a Book Look — Laurent Dubois' recent history of Haiti, Haiti: The Aftershocks of History. That volume provides a very readable history of Haiti from its beginning through the present day. Readable but painful, even embarrassing, as it documents the depredations wreaked on Haiti by, first France, and in the 20th Century, the United States.

That's one little research question resolved. For those who have followed the narrative this far, I offer a little bonus, a DIY image of another slightly earlier pamphlet (slip law?) from France pre-revolution: Loi relative aux armemens des vaisseaux destinés pour le commerce des isles & colonies francoises.

Hearty thanks to Arlene Yu from our Performing Arts Library for coming up with the solution to this question!


Patron-generated content represents the views and interpretations of the patron, not necessarily those of The New York Public Library. For more information see NYPL's Website Terms and Conditions.

Post new comment