Happy 200th birthday, Honest Abe! Did you know that President Lincoln, Indiana’s favorite lawyer, was the only president to hold a patent? On May 22, 1849, Lincoln received Patent No. 6469 for a device to lift boats over shoals.
Lincoln was fascinated by maritime technology and frequently visited the Washington Navy Yard to see the latest weapons and engines. Lincoln started work on his invention between sessions of Congress in 1848 when, on his way home to Illinois, his boat became stranded on a sandbar. Click here for the full story.
In 1859, President Lincoln praised the patent laws for having “secured to the inventor, for a limited time, the exclusive use of his invention; and thereby added the fuel of interest to the fire of genius, in the discovery and production of new and useful things.”
Shown below is Lincoln’s scale model which resides at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. Unfortunately, as with many patents, the invention was never manufactured.