Hagley Museum & Library
Manuscripts & Archives Department
P.O. Box 3630
Wilmington, DE 19807-0630
0.4 linear feet
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. The papers comprise a fragment of material left in Maxim's Lake Hopatcong home at his death and separated from the larger bodies of papers at Hagley and the New York Public Library. The papers consist primarily of Maxim's published and manuscript writings from the period 1907-1926. These include THE ULTIMATE NATURE OF MATTER AND PRINCIPLES OF FORCE (1926), a brief essay on Napoleon, whom Maxim greatly admired, articles on the future of naval and aerial warfare, plus expressions of Social Darwinist and anti-immigration thought of the period. There are five patents for Maxim's invention covering the propulsion of torpedoes and position indicators. Three files describe Maxim's work on the first anti-cigarette crusade, an attempt to organize a Vigilance Committee of leading citizens to contribute to the war effort, and the responses, largely from ordinary middle-class people, to DEFENSELESS AMERICA. There is also a ode to Maxim (1916) by Frederic Van Rensselaer Dey, a friend and neighbor, and a blueprint profile of the Morris Canal (1861) which had originally drawn its water from Lake Hopatcong.