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Benjamin Bradley - Famous Black Inventor

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Benjamin Bradley – Black Inventor

steam engineThe life and work of Benjamin Bradley are indicative of the power of ambition and natural talent, and in this truly inspirational story, the underdog comes out on top. Once again, Bradley came from a slave background, but unlike other African American inventors, his gifts were not directly linked to his work for his slave master.

Bradley lived in a time when it was illegal for slaves to receive education, but he managed to learn how to read by receiving lessons from his master’s children. Once he had the basics, he explored his natural interest in mathematics and natural science, and before long he had managed to construct a functional steam engine, made from bits and pieces that he picked up around the farm. This was an amazing achievement given that the technology was considered relatively new. This amazing talent caught the attention of leaders at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, where he became an assistant.

It was at the Academy that his talent really took off. He was given the chance to participate in experimental ideas and technology. He even earned a substantial salary for his work, and despite the fact that the money was legally due his master, the master allowed Bradley to keep a large percentage for himself. This kindness would pay huge dividends later on in Bradley’s life.

 

 

His work at the Academy, and the fact that he excelled at everything he did, positioned Bradley to develop a steam engine that was placed in the first ever steam-powered warship. Again, he could not receive a patent or real credit for what he did, he was allowed to sell the idea and design to the Navy itself. With this money, and that he had saved during his employment, he negotiated to buy his freedom, which is amazing given that he should not have ever earned money of his own due to the oppressive slave laws.

Bradley’s design influenced warfare, steam technology, and the entire Navy in terms of strategy and planning. He was a visionary with unparalleled desire, and the United States owes him its gratitude.

 
 
 
 

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