Abe Lincoln was a great President because he did something that no other President has done and I’m not talking about all that great stuff trying to abolish slavery and human rights for all. He is the only President who has a patent. on a product. He was always an innovator , a thinker who wanted desperately to find a real solution to a problem..
In 1849 commerce was done by river boats. You can find museum exhibits all over America where there are rivers. It was the time before the industrial revolution of the early 1900’s that changed everything. Factories weren’t built and the railroad system wasn’t widely used to transport goods across the country. Now our highways are clogged up day and night with truck stops and the awful sight and smell of diesel engines transporting stuff everywhere.
Then in Abe Lincoln’s time there were riverboats full of things that needed to go somewhere else. On March 10, 1849 he, at the time our future President, brought to America a new way for improving river navigation. Imagine how far back, how much injustice would still be in our country if he didn’t take the job of President? At this time in his life he wasn’t thinking of Presidential power he just wanted to make things better.
On that day, Abraham Lincoln filed a patent application for his imaginative method of bringing vessels over high land levels in rivers. At age 22 Lincoln was a crew man on a flat boat that got stuck over a dam in New Salem , Illinois. You can see the entire story if you can rent somewhere the old film made in 1940 called Abe Lincoln in Illinois where young Abe is played by the actor Raymond Massey. The movie was based on a successful Pulitzer Prize Play written by Robert E. Sherwood.
After another riverboat grounding in 1848, when he was serving as a Congressman, Lincoln got to working on his new solution to the problem. His law partner William Henry Herndon wrote, “ Continual thinking on the subject of lifting vessels over sand bars and other obstructions in the water, suggested to him the idea of inventing an apparatus for this purpose.” So, the next year came Lincoln’s solution. He invented a ship that had chambers along both sides of the vessel that could be lowered into the water and inflated like balloons that could be inflated and pull the vessel higher over the obstruction underwater.
Just two months after filing his application for the patent, Lincoln received approval making him the only United States President ever to have received a patent . Sadly, even his law partner William thought the contraption was impractical and in the end the only one ever built was Lincoln’s scale model which now sits in the Smithsonian Institution high and dry on a shelf somewhere.
Abe put his direction after that to solving problems in our country rather than putting his efforts to getting rich and mass producing his new type of river boat. I believe his new innovation would have had a margin of success and he would have been a rich man. Nowadays all our politicos are rich first then put their half hearted efforts to the country. They spend millions just to get elected. I wonder what he would have thought if he knew his face would be on the American penny for us all to remember him by.