Silas Henry Hodges


Though he was commissioner for the brief space of only one year, Mr. Hodges was, for a considerable part of his life, actively connected with the Patent Office.

Silas Henry Hodges, lawyer, was born January 12, 1804, at Clarendon, Vermont. From 1845 to 1850 he was Auditor of Accounts of Vermont. He was appointed Commissioner of Patents in 1852 by President Fillmore. From 1861 to 1875 he was an Examiner-in-Chief in the Patent Office. He died in Washington, D. C., April 21, 1875.

This Commissioner also had to contend with the difficulty of insufficient help. In his report of 1853 are the following statements. "Resignations of examiners contributed to augment the number of cases on hand. Strong inducement must be held out to these officers to retain their posts." "More room, better facilities for transacting business, and more examiners are needed. The office has not been wanting in representing the evil to those who had it in their power to repair it and did not." He, too urged the separation of the Patent Office from the Interior Department.

Commissioner Hodges wrote a valuable treatise on "Priority of Invention," setting forth the law determining the prior inventor. As a member of the Board of Examiners-in-Chief he was favorably remembered by a few of the older employees of the Office of a few years past.


*Republished with permission of the Patent and Trademark Office Society from the article Biographical Sketches of the Commissioners of Patents, 18 J.P.O.S. 145 (1936).  The United States Patent and Trademark Office is grateful for the Society’s assistance.