Abraham Lincoln – the Patent Enthusiast!

This post was first published on March 5th, 2014.


Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President of the United States, well known for his fight against slavery. Before entering into active politics, Mr. Lincoln was a practicing lawyer who tried to defend the rights of slaves. His continued interest and effort in this front probably helped him gain the trust of his countrymen, which in turn helped him build a successful political career and become the President of the United States in the year 1861. Thereafter, his struggle for abolishing slavery ended in success and slavery was abolished across the country.

All these chapters of his life are well known, but this post will throw light on a lesser-known facet of this legendary character: Abraham Lincoln – the Patent Enthusiast!

Yes, that’s right. Mr. Lincoln is the only president in the history of the US to hold a patent. He received patent for a flotation device for the movement of boats in shallow water. As the saying goes “Necessity is the mother of invention”, some real-life experiences led Mr. Lincoln to this invention. Mr. Lincoln has written about these incidents in his autobiography. The patent application titled “Buoying vessels over shoals” (US 6469) was filed on the 10th of March, 1849. According to him, this patent application was intended to protect a new and improved manner of combining adjustable buoyant air chambers with a steamboat or other vessels for the purpose of enabling their draught of water to be readily lessened so as to enable them to pass over bars, or through shallow water, without discharging cargoes.

Mr. Lincoln had always admired the patent law and had even delivered two lecturers while he was the President. His love for inventions and patents even reflected in his approach as President. He was quoted as saying “Man is not the only animal who labours, but he is the only one who improves his workmanship”. During his legal career, he had served as a patent lawyer and had even managed to win in a patent infringement suit.

Mr. Lincoln’s patent was never commercialized and some experts even doubted whether it would have actually worked. Well, I believe that’s not a matter of concern anymore. The fact is that inventions from such legends will continue to inspire people and encourage them to add valuable contributions to technology.

Source: from here


  • April 5, 2014 Posted

    George Washington and Benjamin Franklin also had patents on their names

    • April 8, 2014 Posted

      Thanks for commenting…We will do further research, and write articles on the topics you suggested.

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