Lewis Latimer, the son of fugitive slaves who became a phenomenal inventor

December 11, 2018 at 05:00 pm | History

Francis Akhalbey

Francis Akhalbey | Staff Writer

December 11, 2018 at 05:00 pm | History

Lewis Latimer

Born September 4, 1848, in Chelsea, Massachusetts, Lewis Howard Latimer was one of a kind. Besides being an inventor, he was also a skilled draftsman, engineer, poet, musician, author as well as philanthropist.

The son of fugitive slaves, Latimer’s parents fled to Boston, Massachusetts. His father, George Latimer, was however arrested and tried with the judge ordering for his return to his slave master in Virginia.

Defended by prominent abolitionists including William Lloyd Garrison, his father was eventually freed after funds were raised to purchase his freedom from his slave master.

As a teenager, Latimer enlisted in the US Navy after lying about his age. He served as a landsman until he received an honourable discharge and returned to Boston where he got a job as an office boy at Crosby Halstead and Gould, a patent law firm. During his stay, he learned to draft by simply observing the draftsmen. Upon realizing his talent, his boss promoted him to head draftsman.

Latimer went on to have a very stellar career receiving several notable patents either singly or with other inventors. He passed away on December 11, 1928, at the age of 80.

Scroll through to take a look at some of the patents:

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