Slavery Prevented These Black Geniuses From Being Recognized


History credits Cyrus McCormick as the sole inventor of the mechanical reaper which modernized farming.

But it was actually his enslaved fieldhand, Jo Anderson, who worked into the night improving the machine that would later be patented by, credited to, and profitable for Cyrus alone.

Working as the manager of his owner’s general store, an enslaved man named Benjamin Montgomery found a solution to late deliveries. 

Realizing supply boats carrying goods could not navigate river depths well, he created a steam-operated propeller to speed up the process. His patent was rejected because he was enslaved. 

Master carpenter Henry Boyd wouldn’t let his enslavement and lack of patent keep him from making money off of his invention, the Boyd Bedstead. 

He stamped each product for credit and sales earned him enough money to buy freedom for him and his siblings.

Benjamin Bradley was another Black man whose invention - the first steam engine to power a 1840s naval warship - helped fund freedom for himself and his family. 

Despite schemes and rejections, many Black inventors got the last laugh! 

The U.S. Patent office denied slave owner Oscar J. E. Stuart his application for trying to claim his captive Ned’s cotton scraper invention (a device Stuart could not even explain) as his own! Smh. 

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