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Inventions: Creativity and Freedom
by Dr. Russell L. Adams

      Creativity and freedom are connected, The greater degrees of freedom, the greater the number and quality of inventions. In the area of material invention, the objectives of the inventive spirit usually have been the enhancement of human capabilities in the use of energy, the segmentation of time, the reduction of space, the reformation of matter, the elimination of illness and the promotion of health. Whether the consequences of human forethought (planning) or afterthought (reflection), invention requires an ecology of freedom.

      Thus it is no accident that North America or Northern Europe hosts, by far, the world’s largest numbers of inventions to better understand nature, to mechanize transportation and to computerize thought itself. On a smaller scale, America’s free North--rather than its slave South--was the locus of African-American inventors, such as Earnest Matzeliger, Granville T. Woods, Elijah McCoy, Louis Latimer, Percy Julian, Lloyd A. Hall, and Meredith Gourdine. The inventively inquisitive minds of a George Washington Carver--or a Charles R. Drew or an Earnest E. Just in Southern locations--required a degree of freedom and support generally unavailable to others. Intellectual freedom and political freedom are equally important.

      As illustrated below, on a less global scale, the USA North has been the nursery of white and black inventors. The phrase "Yankee Inventor" actually refers to white inventors anyplace North of the Mason-Dixon line. While an anonymous Georgia slave invented the cotton gin which made cotton the overseer of enslaved Africans, the


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June 2001