Congressman Hakeem Jeffries

Representing the 8th District of New York

Rep. Jeffries And House Colleagues Introduce Resolution Honoring Inventor Thomas Jennings

Mar 13, 2014
Press Release

WASHINGTON – Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (NY-8) and more than a dozen House colleagues have introduced H.Res. 514 in honor of the life and achievements of Mr. Thomas Jennings, the first African-American to be granted a patent.

Thomas Jennings was born in New York City in 1791.  At 30 years of age, he was the first African-American to receive a patent by the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

Jennings, a well-known custom-tailor, was a small business owner in New York City.  During the course of his business practice, Mr. Jennings invented a cleaning process called “dry scouring,” which was the precursor to dry cleaning.  He applied for and was granted a patent for dry scouring on March 3, 1821.

“Thomas Jennings, a native New Yorker, was an entrepreneurial trailblazer who was ahead of his time.  As the first African-American to be granted a patent, his success is an important part of the journey we have traveled as a society in America,” said Rep. Jeffries.  “The Thomas Jennings story will hopefully inspire the next generation of engineers, scientists and mathematicians to contribute to our innovation and tech economy.”

According to a study conducted by the National Science Foundation, only 1 in 10 employed scientists and engineers are women or persons of color.  For America to remain competitive, that must change.

“Mr. Jennings is an example of what is possible, and I will work hard throughout the year to make sure that his accomplishments are amplified,” said Rep. Jeffries.

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This resolution has the support of the following original cosponsors: Reps. Conyers (MI-3), Rangel (NY-13), Slaughter (NY -25), Rush (IL-1), Nadler (NY-10), E.B. Johnson (TX-30), Bobby Scott (VA-3), Israel (NY-3), Fudge (OH-11), Meeks (NY-5), Crowley (NY-14), Lee (CA-13), Clarke (NY-09), Owens (NY- 21), Tonko (NY-20), Richmond (LA-2), S.P. Maloney (NY-18) and Kelly (IL-2).

Full text of House Resolution 514 can be read HERE.