In honor of President’s Day, we’re uncovering the only president-held invention and who is considered to be the ‘Father of Invention.’

Abraham Lincoln is the first, and only, president to gain recognition as an inventor.

Well before becoming the 16th president of the United States, the young Abraham Lincoln was known for his interest in engineering and mechanics. Lincoln, who had a long fascination with how things worked, invented a flotation system for lifting riverboats stuck on sandbars. On March 10, 1849, Abraham Lincoln filed a patent for a device for “buoying vessels over shoals” with the U.S. Patent Office. Two years later, Patent No. 6,469 was approved. His invention, “adjustable buoyant air chambers,” would be attached to the sides of a boat. They could be lowered into the water and inflated to lift the boat over under-water obstacles.

Lincoln envisioned a system of waterproof, inflatable air chambers to help ease a stuck ship over barriers and to avoid a disaster. As part of the research process, Lincoln designed a scale model of a ship equipped with the device. Though the invention was never manufactured, a version of his model is held at the Smithsonian Museum.

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