Black man files patent for corn planter

Date: 
Tue, 1834-10-14

This date in 1834 marks one of the first patents filed by a Black person in America.

Henry Blair of Montgomery County, MD, received his first patent on October 14, 1834, for his invention of the corn seed planter, which allowed farmers to plant their corn much faster and with much less labor. The machine also helped with weed control. He later received another patent in 1836 for the invention of the cotton planter. The cotton planter was very similar to the seed planter in the way that it was put together.

Blair was not an educated man; he could not read or write. At the time that he filed his patent applications he had to sign them with an “x” because he was unable to write his name. Blair is the only person in the United States Patent Office records to be identified as a “colored man.” No other inventor is identified by his or her race. Henry Blair died in 1860.

Reference:
Created Equal: The Lives and Ideas of Black American Innovators
By James Michael Brodie
Copyright 1993, by Bill Adler Books, Inc.
William Morrow and Co. Inc., New York
ISBN 0-688-11536-5

Global Black Inventors