whatever floats your boat

drawings from Abraham Lincoln's patent

drawings from Abraham Lincoln’s patent

It was 164 years ago today that Abraham Lincoln was awarded a patent for an improved method of buoying vessels over shoals. Kind of like water wings for a riverboat.

After reporting to Washington for his two year term in Congress (beginning March 1847), Lincoln retained Zenas C. Robbins, patent attorney. Robbins most probably had drawings done by Robert Washington Fenwick, his apprentice artist. Robbins processed the application, which became patent No. 6,469 on 22 May 1849. However, it was never produced for practical use. There are doubts as to whether it would have actually worked: It “likely would not have been practical,” stated Paul Johnston, curator of maritime history at the National Museum of American History, “because you need a lot of force to get the buoyant chambers even two feet down into the water. My gut feeling is that it might have been made to work, but Lincoln’s considerable talents lay elsewhere.” |from Wikipedia

To paraphrase Mr. Johnston, “Abraham Lincoln was probably better at other stuff (preserving the Union through a devastating Civil War, abolishing slavery, changing the course of human history, etc.) than he was at inventing improved methods for buoying vessels over shoals.” Truth.

Nevertheless, Lincoln is the only President in U.S. history to have been awarded a patent. How about that.

Abraham Lincolns US Patent

patent no. 6469 | photo: treasuresthouhast (David and Jessie)