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Daniel Leavitt Passes Away

Today in Masonic History Daniel Leavitt passes away in 1859.

Daniel Leavitt was an American inventor.

Leavitt was born in Rye, New Hampshire on November 16th, 1813.

Leavitt took out his first patent on April 29th, 1837 for a 6 shot single-action revolver. It was the second of it's kind, the first being Samuel Colt's invention. Leavitt's improvement to the Colt revolver was to bevel the face of the cylinder containing the the 6 shots. The issue at the time was that multi-shot guns like Colt's created sparks that could set off the chambers per-maturely. The beveling that Leavitt introduced redirected the sparks away from the other chambers.

It was just one year earlier that Colt had patented his revolver, and Leavitt's new patent was the beginning of a boom in innovation in the firearms manufacturing market in the United States.

Leavitt's revolver was manufactured by Wesson, Stephens & Miller in Hartford, Connecticut. In 1839, Edwin Wesson, an inventor himself, made modifications to the revolver and renamed it to the Wesson & Leavitt revolver. The revolver would not start being produced though until 1850 when Wesson received his patent posthumously (he passed away in 1849). Eventually the manufacturing was moved to the Massachusetts Arms Company in Chicopee Falls, Massachusetts. The new revolvers were popular and were used extensively in the Mexican-American War.

The Wesson & Leavitt revolver became popular enough that it drew the attention of Samuel Colt who sent his cousin to purchase one of the revolvers. Emboldened by an extension of his patent until 1857, Colt sued the Massachusetts Arms Company in 1852, for patent infringement. The case was heavily covered in New York City Newspapers where the trial took place. Colt would win his case and it would cause the Massachusetts Arms Company to go into liquidation.

The Massachusetts Arms Company would survive though and is considered to be a predecessor to Smith & Wesson.

Leavitt would go to invent other things outside the firearms industry. He would invent a 'Mode of Securing Bobbins in Shuttles for Weaving' for which he was awarded a patent by the United States Patent Office.

Leavitt passed away in Chicopee, Massachusetts on July 27th, 1859.

Leavitt was a member of Chiopee Lodge in Chicopee, Massachusetts.