Maxim, Hudson, 1853-1927

Alternative names
Dates:
Birth 1853-02-03
Death 1927-05-06
Americans
English

Biographical notes:

Hudson Maxim (1853-1927) was an American inventor, mechanical engineer and explosives expert. He worked as a consultant for the Du Pont Company from 1897 to 1927 and wrote books on explosives and literary and political matters.

From the guide to the Hudson Maxim papers, 1883-1927, 1890s-1927, (The New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division.)

Hudson Maxim was born in Orneville Maine on February 3, 1853, to a poor but mechanically-gifted family. His older brother Hiram invented the Maxim gun, the first truly efficient automatic machine gun, and his nephew, Hiram Percy Maxim, invented the silencer. Hudson was the first to successfully produce smokeless powder in America.

In the 1880s, Hudson Maxim worked in his brother's English gun factory, where he became familiar with a French version of smokeless gunpowder. He returned to the United States in 1888 as the American representative of the Maxim-Nordenfelt Guns and Ammunition Company, Ltd., and began experimenting on his own with high explosives, securing his first patent in 1889. The contract with his brother expired in 1891, and Maxim established the Columbia Powder Manufacturing Company to manufacture dynamite at a plant near Farmingdale, N.J. When the company failed in 1893, he reorganized it as the Maxim Powder Company.

Maxim then began experimenting with smokeless powder and received a number of patents between 1893 and 1895. He then returned to England, where he attempted to set up companies to manufacture explosives, calcium carbide, and, at the suggestion of his nephew, Hiram Percy, automobile engines. None of these efforts was successful. Hudson laid the blame on Hiram's interference, and a permanent rift developed between the brothers. Hudson sold his most important patents to E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co. in 1897, and the company established a laboratory and summer home for him at Lake Hopatcong, N.J. Maxim continued to produce inventions relating to explosives, ordnance, and torpedoes through the 1910s, but he also wandered down many blind alleys, including "Maxim-feast," a soybean-based food supplement, and "the Game of War," a supposed "improvement" on chess.Maxim helped organize the Maxim Munitions Corporation in 1915, hoping that it would assume the promotional burdens while he concentrated on inventing, but he soon withdrew when its managers tied his name to a scheme to turn water into gasoline.

After 1900 Maxim carved out a second career as a public speaker and inveterate writer of magazine articles and letters to the editor, freely venting his opinions on poetry and language as well as invention, progress, and public affairs. Beginning in 1914 he vociferously argued for American rearmament against a wide array of Progressive-era pacifists. After the war he concentrated on the development of the Lake Hopatcong area and on local affairs. He died on May 6, 1927.

From the description of Papers, 1851-1925. (Hagley Museum & Library). WorldCat record id: 122503508

Hudson Maxim was born in Orneville Maine on February 3, 1853, to a poor but mechanically-gifted family. His older brother Hiram invented the Maxim gun, the first truly efficient automatic machine gun, and his nephew, Hiram Percy Maxim, invented the silencer. Hudson was the first to successfully produce smokeless powder in America.

In the 1880s, Hudson Maxim worked in his brother's English gun factory, where he became familiar with a French version of smokeless gunpowder. He returned to the United States in 1888 as the American representative of the Maxim-Nordenfelt Guns and Ammunition Company, Ltd., and began experimenting on his own with high explosives, securing his first patent in 1889. The contract with his brother expired in 1891, and Maxim established the Columbia Powder Manufacturing Company to manufacture dynamite at a plant near Farmingdale, N.J. When the company failed in 1893, he reorganized it as the Maxim Powder Company.

Maxim then began experimenting with smokeless powder and received a number of patents between 1893 and 1895. He then returned to England, where he attempted to set up companies to manufacture explosives, calcium carbide, and, at the suggestion of his nephew, Hiram Percy, automobile engines. None of these efforts was successful. Hudson laid the blame on Hiram's interference, and a permanent rift developed between the brothers. Hudson sold his most important patents to E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co. in 1897, and the company established a laboratory and summer home for him at Lake Hopatcong, N.J. Maxim continued to produce inventions relating to explosives, ordnance, and torpedoes through the 1910s, but he also wandered down many blind alleys, including "Maxim-feast," a soybean-based food supplement, and "the Game of War," a supposed "improvement" on chess.Maxim helped organize the Maxim Munitions Corporation in 1915, hoping that it would assume the promotional burdens while he concentrated on inventing, but he soon withdrew when its managers tied his name to a scheme to turn water into gasoline.

After 1900 Maxim carved out a second career as a public speaker and inveterate writer of magazine articles and letters to the editor, freely venting his opinions on poetry and language as well as invention, progress, and public affairs. Beginning in 1914 he vociferously argued for American rearmament against a wide array of Progressive-era pacifists. After the war he concentrated on the development of the Lake Hopatcong area and on local affairs. He died on May 6, 1927.

From the description of Papers, 1889-1925. (Hagley Museum & Library). WorldCat record id: 122516235

Hudson Maxim (1853-1927) was an American inventor, mechanical engineer and explosives expert.

He worked as a consultant for the Du Pont Company from 1897 to 1927 and wrote books on explosives and literary and political matters.

From the description of Hudson Maxim papers, 1883-1927, bulk (1890s-1927). (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 122580483

Hudson Maxim was born in Orneville Maine on February 3, 1853, to a poor but mechanically-gifted family. His older brother Hiram invented the Maxim gun, the first truly efficient automatic machine gun, and his nephew, Hiram Percy Maxim, invented the silencer. Hudson was the first to successfully produce smokeless powder in America.

After 1900 Maxim carved out a second career as a public speaker and inveterate writer of magazine articles and letters to the editor, freely venting his opinions on poetry and language as well as invention, progress, and public affairs. Beginning in 1914 he vociferously argued for American rearmament against a wide array of Progressive-era pacifists. After the war he concentrated on the development of the Lake Hopatcong (N.J.) area and on local affairs. He died on May 6, 1927. For a more complete biography see DEHV96-A17.

From the description of Papers, 1861-1926. (Hagley Museum & Library). WorldCat record id: 122547537

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Subjects:

  • Science
  • Diamonds, Artificial
  • Relativity
  • Aeronautics
  • Explosives
  • Ordnance
  • Gasoline substitutes
  • Nitrocellulose
  • Motorite (Propellant)
  • Torpedo-boats
  • Armstrong gun
  • Machine guns
  • Inventions
  • Peace movements
  • Gunpowder, Smokeless
  • Soyfoods
  • Antismoking movement
  • Torpedoes
  • Nutrition
  • Pacifism
  • Prohibition--United States
  • Explosions
  • Stabillite (Explosive)
  • Calcium carbide
  • Patent lawyers
  • Patents--Explosives industry
  • World War, 1914-1918--Public opinion
  • Peace movements--United States
  • Social Darwinism
  • Real estate development
  • Prohibition
  • Cartridges
  • Canals
  • Patents
  • Dynamite
  • Immigrants
  • Nativism
  • Inventors
  • Military weapons
  • Cigarette habit
  • Canning and preserving
  • Fuzes (Ordnance)

Occupations:

  • Inventors

Places:

  • United States (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • New Jersey (as recorded)
  • Hopatcong, Lake (N.J.) (as recorded)
  • Lake Hopatcong (N.J.) (as recorded)
  • Lake Hopatcong (N.J.) (as recorded)
  • New Jersey (as recorded)