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Feb. 16, 2009 9:48 am

Abraham Lincoln loves technology and Philadelphia

Today is President’s Day, so why not tip your hat to perhaps the most technology-loving president in our nation’s history. No, not iPod-tripping, Zune-dismissing, social media-loving Barack Obama, but Abraham Lincoln, who was born 200 years ago and has a particular affinity to Philadelphia, which has more monuments to Honest Abe than anywhere else. Despite […]

Today is President’s Day, so why not tip your hat to perhaps the most technology-loving president in our nation’s history.

No, not iPod-tripping, Zune-dismissing, social media-loving Barack Obama, but Abraham Lincoln, who was born 200 years ago and has a particular affinity to Philadelphia, which has more monuments to Honest Abe than anywhere else.

Despite his image as a backward country bumpkin, turns out Lincoln was incredibly interested in technology, particularly for his time, access and education.

Find out how after the jump.

He’s the only American president to have held a U.S. patent, and it turns out, followed the development of the telegraph and weapons-advancement closely than you might expect out of a 19th-century, failed farmer and businessman and (initially) politician.

A graf from Henry J. Reske‘s recent story for U.S. News and World Report:

Despite his popular image as a log-splitting bumpkin and small-time country lawyer, Lincoln had an avid interest in cutting-edge technology. As an attorney, he represented railroads. During the Civil War, he haunted the telegraph office (which provided the instant-messaging of its day) for the latest news from the front and was actively involved in directing troops. He encouraged weapons development and even tested some new rifles himself on the White House lawn. He is the only U.S. president to hold a patent (No. 6469, granted May 22, 1849). It was for a device to lift riverboats over shoals. Jason Emerson, author of Lincoln the Inventor, notes that the 16th president was a product of an American age of innovation, invention and expansion, was intensely inquisitive, and possessed a mechanical mind and a need to know how things work. “He never came across a machine or invention or scientific idea that he did not stop to investigate, both physically and mentally,” Emerson says. “He not only created his own invention but had ideas for other inventions, such as an agricultural steam plow and a naval steam ram, [and] was fascinated by patent cases as an attorney and also by new innovations during the Civil War.” [Source]

Hat tip Slashdot.

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Christopher Wink

Christopher Wink is a cofounder and Editorial Director of Technical.ly, the local technology news network. Previously, Wink worked for a homeless advocacy nonprofit and was a freelance reporter for a variety of publications. He writes regularly about news innovation and best business practices on his personal blog here. The bicycle commuter loves cities, urban politics and squabbling about neighborhood boundaries.

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