The Patended President

Today in History, May 22, 1849:

“Be it known that I, Abraham Lincoln, of Springfield, in the county of Sangamon, in the state of Illinois, have invented a new and improved manner of combining adjustable buoyant air chambers with a steam boat or other vessel for the purpose of enabling their draught of water to be readily lessened to enable them to pass over bars, or through shallow water, without discharging their cargoes;”

Young Abraham Lincoln receives patent #6469 for an invention to lift river boats over shoals and other obtructions.

Among many other jobs he’d held, he had hauled freight on flat boats on the Mississippi. Twice his boat was hung up. As was common, once the boat had to be unloaded, repaired and portaged over the obstruction…a very laborous job.

Lincoln’s invention would inflate bladders to create more boyancy, lifting the craft over the problem. His invention was never put into use, so it’s viability remains unproven. It does make Abe the only US President with a patent.


Today in History, April 11: 1803 – Instrumental in establishing the US Patent system, John Stevens receives a patent for the first screw driven, steam powered boat, or steamboat. The son of a member of the Continental Congress, A Captain and later Colonel in the Continental Army, Stevens turned his talents to inventions after the war. Robert Fulton would win the most fame for the steamship, but it was Stevens who first tied steam power to propeller driven naval craft. He would be best known as the father of the American railroad for steam powered railroad engines. Not nearly as famous as George Washington, or other American heroes…but how much more impact did Stevens have on the world with his inventions? He and his contemporaries took us from a world of sail to paddle wheeled steamships, to ironclads, to battleships, liners, supertankers, and more.