The story of Thomas Jennings, the first black man to hold a patent, makes money from his invention to free his family from slavery - Photo 1.

The story of Thomas Jennings, the first black man to hold a patent, makes money from his invention to free his family from slavery


Thomas Jennings (1791-12 February 1856), a New York-born African-American, was one of the leaders in the abolition of slavery, building his fortune with the invention of the way. Dry cleaning solution. Jennings was only 30 years old when he received a patent in March 1821 (US 3306x code), and also became the first black man to own a patent for his invention.

Thomas Jennings (1791-12 February 1856)

Story

Jennings was born in 1791 in New York City. He became a tailor and gradually opened one of the top clothing stores in New York. During this time, he received a lot of complaints about their clothes that were always stained – because of the type. The material at the time was difficult to clean up with soil traces by conventional methods, Jennings began to study a cleaning mixture.

Inventing dry cleaning

Thomas experimented with various cleaning compounds on fabrics until the mixture reached a suitable ratio. He called it "dry scouring," a process that is now renamed to dry clean.

The story of Thomas Jennings, the first black man to hold a patent, makes money from his invention to free his family from slavery - Photo 2.

Machine for dry cleaning.

He filed the application in 1820 and was granted a patent for "dry cleaning brush" (the patent was burnt during storage). Even so, the method of using this solvent to wash clothes has been known and widely used.

Thanks to the first coins earned through this patent, Jennings "bought" his family again, freeing them from slavery – including his wife Elizabeth and children (according to the abolition law of 1799 of New York, she was transformed into a servant's state of being held and not eligible for complete liberation until 1827). Later, most of his income was devoted to abolishing slavery. In 1831, Jennings became assistant secretary for Philadelphia's first annual meeting for people of color.

Legal issue

Luckily for Jennings, he was awarded a patent at the right time. The US patent law from 1793 to 1836 both slaves and ordinary citizens can apply for their invention. But in 1857, a slave owner named Oscar Stuart registered for "scraping double cotton", which was an invention of a slave named Ned. Stuart said that "the slave owner is the one who inherits the fruits of slavery, both labor and wisdom".

In 1858, the US patent office changed its rules in response to Stuart's Supreme Court patent case called Oscar Stuart v. Ned. The court ruled on Stuart, arguing that slavery is not a citizen and cannot be patented. But surprisingly, in 1861, the United States passed the slavery law, and in 1870 passed patent law to all American men including black rights. their inventions.

The last years of life

Jennings' daughter, the same name as her mother – Elizabeth – was an activist like him, a plaintiff in a historic case after being thrown out of a streetcar in New York City while on her way to home. worship Thanks to her father's help, Elizabeth sued the Third Avenue Railway Company for discrimination and won the case in 1855. One day after the resolution, the company had to order the cars of I canceled the color separation. After the incident, Elizabeth continued to organize an anti-racism movement in public transport in the city; Capital services provided by private companies.

At the same time, Thomas was one of the founders of the Legal Rights Association, a group that organized discrimination and discrimination challenges and obtained legal representation to bring lawsuits. court. Jennings died in 1856, only a few years ago that the custom he had fought – slavery – was abolished.

The story of Thomas Jennings, the first black man to hold a patent, makes money from his invention to free his family from slavery - Photo 3.

Elizabeth Jennings Graham, a black activist, daughter of Thomas Jennings.

Heritage

Thomas and his daughter made an effort to break the racial isolation in public infrastructure, a movement that existed until the civilian era a century later. Indeed, the 1963 "I Have a Dream" speech by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., in Washington, repeated the accusations that the Jennings family had expressed and fought a hundred years ago.

Not only by inventing the "dry-cleaning" method that is still widely used to this day, Jennings has made the first steps in the abolition movement, freeing people of color from the domination of division. race.

According to thoughtco.com


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