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Henry Blair

Henry Blair was the second African American inventor to receive a US patent. He was born in Glen Ross, Maryland, United States, in 1807. After finding success as a farmer, Blair proved himself a capable inventor. On October 14, 1834, Blair received his patent for his mechanical corn seed planter. Blair’s corn planter resembles a wheelbarrow with a chamber fixed to the bottom that disperses the seed. After the seed is dispersed, rakes attached to the back of the wheelbarrow drag over the seed to cover them with soil. Blair’s corn planter resulted in more efficient crop planting and resulted in greater overall yield for farmers. According to an 1836 article from The Mechanics’ Magazine, Blair’s invention was conjectured to “save the labor of eight men.”

On August 31, 1836, Blair obtained a patent for his mechanical cotton planter. The device is essentially an adaptation of Blair’s corn planter optimized for cotton. The cotton planter also resembled a wheelbarrow, but it had two blades that split the earth while a cylinder located behind the blades dispersed the seeds into the freshly ploughed grooves.

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