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HENRY BLAIR

(1807-1860)

(No photos or portrait of Henry has been located anywhere photo of time era has been used)

Henry Blair was the second African American inventor issued a patent by the United States Patent Office.

Very little is known and recorded on Henry Blair.

Henry was born in Glen Ross, Maryland in 1807, Maryland; Henry was a free slave during that time because as records show from the statics 1,652 slaves were made free approximately. Slavery was codified into the laws of Maryland in 1664. Slaves made up a great percentage of the population. When a slave is granted freedom from his/her or family freedom papers they had to have that document where ever they were so the indivsual would not be placed back into slavery.

I do feel that Henry was more privileged than others for his ownership of his land for farming and home .through his freedom given the right to obtain his patent. I feel that is why the office officials at that time listed Henry Blair as COLORED OR NEGRO. Henry I do feel and by researching had received some formal education weather in school or by self learning. He was able to read and to write because he had to prepare the information and document all points of his invention on how they worked and in order to do that he had to know the correct spelling and pronunciation of each working part of the machine. Henry had artistic skills and the knowhow which allowed him to have resourceful survival skills. The labeling I fell was done with assistance by a close friend or relative that would know about the procedures in having a patent established in his name. For any formal patent document Henry would use the signature of the initial “X”. Henry was a pioneer and a visionary.

Henry first invented the seed planter which would draw open tracks and lay the seeds perfectly. This made the harvesting and trade of crops more productive and increase in revenues. He received a patent for this invention on October 14, 1834, assigned number 8447x.

Henry on August 14, 1836, invented the cotton planter which he again   received a second patent for that creation and was assigned number 15. The cotton planter worked by splitting the ground with two shovel-like blades pulled along by a horse, followed by a wheel-driven cylinder which dropped seen into the newly plowed furrow. At the time that Henry patents were granted United States patent law allowed both freed and enslaved people to obtain patents. In 1857 this law was challenged by a slave-owner who claimed that he owned “all the fruits of the slave’s labor” including his slave’s inventions. This resulted in the change of the law in 1858 which stated that slaves were not citizens and therefore could not hold patents. After the American Civil War, in 1871, the law was changed to grant all men (but not women) patent rights. He died in 1860.

 

 

 

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