The Civil War having given an impetus to creative genius as applied to the useful arts, entirely without precedent, it was to the problems of this period that the tenth Commissioner of Patents turned his attention, his term of office being recognized as one of the most important, in one aspect, in the history of the Patent Office.

Thomas Clarke Theaker was born in York County, Pennsylvania, on February 1, 1812. He completed his preparatory studies while in Pennsylvania, and in 1830 moved to Bridgeport, Ohio. There he acquired practical knowledge of the mechanical arts through his work as a machinist and wheelwright. He was elected to the 36th Congress, serving from March 4, 1859 to March 3, 1861. Having failed of reelection, he obtained an appointment as a member of a commission to investigate the Patent Office. Shortly afterward he was appointed a member of the Board of Examiners-in-Chief, and he continued in that office until his appointment to the Commissionership, which office he held from August 17, 1865 to January 20, 1868.

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