Zachos, John C.
Autograph Letter Signed, on letterhead of Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, New York, October 2, 1886, to Mr. Wakeman

octavo, 3 pages, some minor spotting, else in very good condition.

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“Will you be kind enough to consider carefully, the papers I inclose to you, both, as a matter of business and of personal kindness. I know the two cannot be mixed very much still they are perfectly compatible in manly conduct. I have presented in these papers, the whole ‘merits of the case’, aside from certain ‘ocular proofs’ which I am ready to give. What I need now is just sufficient to launch my little bark on the ‘ocean of business’. I think, it is well freighted, with ‘valuable good’, and I will take care that it is ‘well manned’. My invention has been work of ten years, and to me of very serious expense. But as it is ‘all in my hands; and I am ready to make any fair business arrangements to divide profits and risks and put this thing fairly ‘on the market’. Can you not help me in this or procure me some help? I want as I state in my papers $ 500 to finish and perfect my ‘working model’ so that I can give a demonstration of what can be done with ‘the system’, and with the mechanism.

          The model is in the hands of S. H. Wilder, a master mechanic and a member of our ‘Institute of Social Science’ whom I presume you know. He is very intelligent and skillful and I have agreed to give him five hundred dollars on the completion of the model, according to ‘specifications and drawings’.

          I have already paid him two hundred for work and time and he is very near the successful completion. But the man who promised me the rest … has failed me for very poor reasons. Can I procure this sum, in any way, through you, or your help? If I can, I will celebrate ‘socialism and anarchy’ (rightly understood) with you ‘to the end of days’.”

          A rare letter by an immigrant reformer who became an inventor and scientists out of idealistic motives. Born in Ottoman Turkish Constantinople of Greek parents, when his father died as a General in the Greek revolutionary cause of the 1820s, Zachos was brought to America as a child by Julia Ward Howe’s philanthropic husband. Zachos studied medicine, was for a time a pastor of a Cincinnati church and a Professor at Antioch College. During the Civil War, after service as an Army Surgeon, he became a missionary to the freed slaves of Port Royal, South Carolina. While working there for 16months, he had the idea of promoting the education of freedmen through the use of Phonic English. Following the War, Zachos became private secretary to industrialist Peter Cooper, who donated his great wealth to found the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in New York City to make a technical education available to all, regardless of race or gender. Cooper appointed Zachos “curator” of the school, where he remained for years, developing free night classes for thousands of the working poor, men and women alike. This gave Zachos the freedom to invent his “Steno-Phonotype Reporter”, a typewriting instrument with 24 keys, designed to record verbatim words and phrases in phonetic shorthand like chords on a piano. Though he patented his machine in 1875, this letter indicates that he had no luck promoting it, and, after Cooper’s death in 1883, Zachos was forced to look for another benefactor. In accord with his own political leanings, in this letter, he tried to catch the interest of Thaddeus Wakeman, a New York lawyer, political philosopher, and unsuccessful Socialist political candidate. Despite the failure of his invention, Zachos was greatly respected in New York for his “noble-character”, when he died in 1893, the eminent Unitarian clergyman Robert Collyer presided at the funeral, and the pall-bearers included an ex-Mayor of New York City and philanthropist A. D. Juilliard, who founded the School of Music that bears his name.