George Selden is a pivotal figure in the history of the automobile, but there aren’t any landmarks in Detroit named after him. He did more to stall the progress of the U.S. auto industry than any other man in history. This now obscure figure was an inventor and lawyer who filed the first patent for a “road locomotive” in 1879. The patent was so broadly written that virtually anyone who connected an engine to wheels infringed on it. One day a little-known inventor decided to stand ...

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