Monday, February 15, 2021

Inventing Modern Transportation, Black History Month Series--Benjamin Montgomery

Steamboats powered the movement of people and goods in the mid-19th century, with many communities still depending on the nation’s waterways for the necessities of everyday life. Inventor Benjamin Montgomery designed a steamboat propeller that could cut through shallow waters at different angles, limiting disastrous delays in shipments. 
Despite this clear improvement in existing technology, Montgomery never received a patent for his invention. Born into slavery in 1819, Montgomery’s patent application was denied in 1858 due to his legal status as a non-citizen. His enslaver then attempted to patent the propeller under his own name, but was denied on the basis of not being the true inventor. Despite not having intellectual property protection, Montgomery’s invention became a commercial success. 
Obtaining his freedom following the Civil War, Montgomery amassed significant wealth and worked to establish a prosperous community for newly free African Americans. Although Montgomery did not live to see this dream town become a reality, his son Isaiah purchased 840 acres of land in 1887 and founded the town of Mount Bayou, Mississippi. #BlackHistoryMonth #InventingModernAmerica