John H Lorimer

Mr. John H. Lorimer is a gentleman of Scotch birth, who was elected a director of the Keely Motor Company in 1881, and who resigned in 1882, because he was "unable to carry the enterprise," and unwilling to fall in with the policy of the old directors. Before resigning, he set himself to studying the position of affairs with a view to forming for the Board a definite plan of action which ordinary business principles would justify. [The Keely Motor Bubble]

Admitting all that has been said of the difficulties attendant upon the comprehension of a genius by the age in which he lives, it does not require genius to understand the blunders which, perpetrated by the managers of the prematurely organized Keely Motor Company, have placed Mr. Keely, as well as themselves, in false positions with the public; leaving him since the winter of '80-'81 to bear the whole burden of the infamy brought about by their having offered stock for investment which could possess no tangible existence in the shape of property until the laws governing the unknown force that he was handling, had been studied out and applied to mechanics in a patentable machine. To those informed that this company ceased to hold annual meetings as far back as '81 it will be a matter of surprise to hear that, sitting up in its coffin, seven or eight years after its burial, it called another annual meeting, and that now its managers are again applying the thumb-screw, as in past years; pressing their claims and threatening a suit for obtaining money under false pretences, unless Mr. Keely renounces his plan of progressive research, and gives his time to the construction of engines for the Keely Motor Company. This requirement, as was said in 1881, of a similar effort, is as sensible, under existing conditions, as it would be to require Keely to devote his time to growing figs on thorn trees. It is from the "Minority Report to the Stockholders of the Keely Motor Company from the Board of Directors" (made by a member of that board in 1881, John H. Lorimer), that the material is gleaned for disclosing facts which it is due to Mr. Keely should now, since this last attempt to intimidate him, be given to the public. The stock of that company is not lessened in value by the mismanagement of its officers and directors; for Mr. Keely's moral obligations to its stockholders are as sacred to him as if the company had not long since forfeited its charter. When Mr. Keely became financially independent of the company last March, speculation in the stock of that company received its death blow, and the "Keely Motor Bubble" burst, leaving to the stockholders all that ever had any tangible existence in the shape of property in a more valuable position than it had ever been before. Mr. Lorimer is a gentleman of Scotch birth who was elected a director of the Keely Motor Company in '81, and who resigned in '82, because he was "unable to carry the enterprise", and unwilling to fall in with the policy of the old directors. Before resigning, he set himself to studying the position of affairs with a view to forming for the Board a definite plan of action which ordinary business principles would justify.

This course resulted in a thoroughly business-like letter to Mr. Keely in which, under nine heads, Mr. Lorimer set down the conclusions he had reached as to the cause of the difficulties that had culminated in a threatened law suit, and Mr. Keely was ordered to ask that a special meeting of the Board should be called at once, to consider any proposition he should see fit to make towards settling the question whether he should proceed with the company's work or be permitted to defer it, as he so much desired, until he had fully developed all the adaptations of his power already known to him or hereafter possible of discovery by him. Mr. Lorimer added: - "And now, in conclusion, I may say to you that the above deductions from the history of your motor are the result of patient and laborious inquiry on my part, and I am truly at a loss to understand how, or in what manner, other than that herein suggested, you can honourably vindicate your position; and as no one I have met connected with the enterprise, or personally acquainted with you, hesitates for an instant in crediting you with the most unswerving integrity, I have no hesitation in offering the above suggestions for your consideration; and I trust you will so far adopt them as to enable the active portion of your friends to bring the organization rapidly into harmonious accord with you in the development of what all seem to think is the greatest wonder of our civilization, the early completion of which will lift you to the highest pinnacle of fame as a scientist, and make them co-dispensers with you of the God-given wealth of which you hold the key". The date is 10th of February, 1881.

This letter was followed by another dated February 11th, in which Mr. Lorimer submitted certain conclusions, arrived at after meeting in New York with several members of the Board of Directors, one of which reads: - "It seems to be generally understood that without your hearty co-operation and good will, the company cannot realize value upon any existing contracts, or any they may hereafter make with you". At this time Mr. Lorimer states that he had the opportunity presented of studying, semi-officially, the very peculiar man whose genius held his friends so spell-bound that they lost their power (if such they possessed) to adapt business methods to the enterprise. "To meet him socially in his shop," Mr. Lorimer writes, "after his day's work, was, I think, invariably to be impressed with his earnestness, honesty of purpose, and, above all, with confidence in his knowledge of the plane of science he was working in (acoustics), and at the same time, to be impressed with the folly of basing calculations for the government of the business details of the organization upon the statements made by him while contemplating the possible result of his researches".

With the hopeful spirit of an inventor, Mr. Keely always anticipated almost immediate mechanical success, up to the hour in which he abandoned the automatic arrangement that was necessary to make his generator patentable. From that time his line of perspective extended, and he began to realize that he had been too sanguine in the past. He had been like a man grappling in the dark with a foe, the form of which had not even presented itself to his imagination; but when, in 1884, Macvicar's work on the structure of ether came like a torch to reveal the face of his antagonist, what wonder that he, with the enthusiasm of Paracelsus, felt his

. . . . " fluttering pulse give evidence that God
Means good to me, will make my cause his own,"

and, as in 1881, again rashly bound himself, anew, by fresh promises, made to those who had the power to give or to withhold the sinews needed in the warfare he was waging?

To return to the report. During the negotiations which followed, facts in the history of the company were developed which convinced Mr. Lorimer that Mr. Keely was totally unable to measure time, or define his plans, because of the ever changing results attained by him, in researching the laws governing the force he was trying to harness. At this time the treasurer of the company was proposing to bring over from New York to Philadelphia a number of capitalists to witness an exhibition of the production of the force, will order to dispose of 500 shares at 25.00 dollars a share to them. To this plan Mr. Lorimer objected, writing to the treasurer, "I fear that you would be putting yourself in a false position with the friends you might induce to take stock at the figures named", and Mr. Keely himself at first refused to give the exhibition, but upon the application of the thumb-screw, kept in readiness, it took place. At this time Mr. Lorimer wrote to the president of the company, "If Keely gives us the benefit of his discoveries, it will require all our energies to guide our enterprise; and, on the other hand, if he dies or is forestalled, it will need all our care and attention to take care of our reputations. The fact that the Board has some delicate and important work to perform, brings us to the question, are we properly organized to perform our part? If we are, let us show it by our acts, and, if not, let us act like men, worthy the important trust before us. If I am over-estimating the character and importance of this work, you can show it to me, and per contra, if I am correct, you can and will accept the responsibilities of the position you hold, no matter how unpleasant, no matter how irksome, if understood by you and honourably supported by us." Mr. Lorimer then prepared this summary, or analysis of the situation.

26th July, 1881
First. The existence of a discovery or invention which, from evidences of its adaptability (when complete) to the industrial arts and sciences, may be esteemed the most valuable discovery of civilization in modern or in ancient times, inasmuch as it revolutionizes all known methods of generating power.

Second. The retention by the discoverer and inventor of all the secrets whereby these discoveries can be utilized by the public, thus making their future existence, so far as the Keely Motor Company is concerned, depend entirely upon his life and goodwill.

Third. The existence of a corporated company, organized for the purpose of furnishing funds for the development and completion of the discovery, and for the final control of certain specified inventions, in certain specified localities.

Fourth. The contracts under which the above-mentioned control of certain inventions is vested in the Keely Motor Company, being mere evidences of intention, have no real value until the inventor has received his patents and verified the contracts by transfer of the same to the company.

Fifth. If any conflict should arise between 'the company and the inventor, in which the latter felt justified in withholding the transfer, the existing contracts might be a good foundation to build litigation upon but not good for investment in.

Sixth. The uncertainty of the future of the enterprise, as thus indicated, must of necessity invite a speculative management; and while speculation under some circumstances is legitimate and laudable, under other conditions it may become illegitimate and reprehensible.

Seventh. "The existence of a speculative management in Keely Motor affairs has, of necessity, developed two interests" one which holds that the completion of the discovery in all its possible grandeur should ever be the sole object of its management, and the other, believing that on account of the human uncertainty of the completion of the invention, they are in duty bound to make quick recoveries on their investments, so that they may be safe financially, in the event of a failure by Keely to perfect his inventions.

It is not necessary to pursue this summary farther, as the manner in which Mr. Lorimer has set down the facts already given, makes clear the nature of the conflicting interests that brought about the antagonism which he attempted to subdue, bringing such a spirit of fairness and justice into his efforts as must have crowned them with success, supported as he was by Mr. Keely, had it not been that those who advocated following a policy which, at best, aimed no farther than at the recouping of losses to themselves were in the majority. It was at this time that Mr. Keely manifested his willingness to assume, on the one hand, all the responsibility of the proper development of his discovery; or, on the other hand, all the disgrace accompanying failure by his offer to purchase a controlling interest in the stock, fifty-one thousand shares of which, in order to prevent speculation, he agreed to lock up for five years, and to give the company a bond restraining him from negotiating or parting with a single share of it in that time, the stock to be paid for as soon as certain deferred payments had been made to him. This preposition of Mr. Keely to the Board of Directors, October 25th, 1881 (and laid upon the table by a large majority as unworthy of consideration), was made from his earnest desire to control the presentation of his life's work to the world in a just and honourable way; having recognized, with Mr. Lorimer, the utter impossibility of reconciling the numerous interests created by mistakes of himself and the mismanagement of the Board, unless he could thus obtain the power to deliver an unencumbered enterprise to the world. In the opinion of Mr. Lorimer, during the negotiations which he conducted between the management and Mr. Keely, the latter was the only one who had manifested any consistency or strength of purpose, so far as the facts gave evidence, which were brought before him, of the history of the company. When the validity of the contracts made with Mr. Keely while he was president, or director of the company, were disputed, he was called upon to resign, which he did; and yet no steps were taken to ascertain the value of the existing contracts, which had all been made with him while he was both president and director, and which were therefore, illegal. Proceedings in equity were commenced against Mr. Keely, by the Committee of the Board of Directors having the matter in charge, late in the year 1881, while Mr. Lorimer's report was still in the hands of the printer. "The spectacle of a Board of thirteen Directors, composed of business men", writes Mr. Lorimer, "claiming that they have been foiled in their business calculations by a man whose mind has been so thoroughly absorbed in researching the problems presented by his wonderful discoveries that he could not possibly compare with any of them in business tact, is truly a phenomenon which is not easy of explanation on any hypothesis, but the one that their visions of prospective wealth have been so overpowering as to undo their prudence; and then having in due process of time discovered their error, it certainly is an edifying spectacle to see them now trying to throw all the blame on one poor mortal wholly absorbed in his inventions, and by these efforts disturbing that mental equilibrium of both the inventor and themselves, which is absolutely necessary to ultimate success. When boys, in early summer, pick unripe fruit and eat it, because of their unwillingness to await the ripening thereof, they sometimes suffer acutely for their haste. Yet no one ever thinks of punishing the tree because of their sufferings; nor is it deemed necessary to justice to preserve the fruit of the tree, when ripe, for the sole use of the impatient ones as a recompense for their early sufferings! So it has been with the Keely Motor Company; undue haste to gather the golden fruit that was to come from it has led to a great deal of suffering financially among a few impatient believers. Still it does not seem to me to be wise to curse the inventor, or his inventions, because he has not given us the fruit when we expected it would be ripe." [Keely and Science - Part 2]

See Also

Keely and Science - Part 2
Keely Motor Company
Law Suit
Minority Report to the Stockholders of the Keely Motor Company from the Board of Directors
The Doom of Steam
The Keely Motor Bubble
The Keely Motor Company
Page last modified on Saturday 29 of October, 2016 05:24:40 MDT

Search For a Wiki Page

Last-Visited Pages