U.S. presidents were inventors before they moved into the White
House, so we take a look at how this could influence the election
results. With my loyal and bipartisan dog, Patent, watching over me
to make sure that I score this contest accurately, we've devised a
system that's fair to both parties.
Votes will be awarded as follows:
- One vote for a patented
invention, even if it fails in the marketplace.
- Two votes for an invention that
succeeds in the marketplace, whether patented or not.
- Three votes for a patented
invention that succeeds in the marketplace.
- Any number of votes will be
deducted for any acts that are "unbecoming of a president."
In chronological order, we begin
with Thomas Jefferson, who was by far the greatest presidential
inventor in U.S. history. Jefferson created at least nine successful
inventions: a moldboard plow, a wheel cipher, a spherical sundial, a
portable copying press, automatic double doors, the bookstand, the
swivel chair, the dumbwaiter and a macaroni machine. That's 18
votes, if you're keeping score at home. He also introduced French
fries, ice cream, waffles and macaroni to the United States.
While he was an Illinois congressman
Abe Lincoln invented a solution to help him navigate a boat through
shallow waters. He was issued Patent 6,469 for "A Device for Buoying
Vessels Over Shoals" in 1849. Lincoln never commercialized his
invention, but he made a wooden model of it that sits in the
Smithsonian Institution. Score two points for Lincoln's Republican
Even though Lincoln's successor,
Andrew Johnson, didn't invent the process of impeachment, he was the
first U.S. president to actually be impeached (he was impeached by
the House but acquitted by one vote in the Senate). Deduct three
votes, but for which party? Johnson was both a Democrat and a
Republican during his career, so his negative votes get thrown out.
[to top of second column
in this article]
Enter another Republican president,
Rutherford B. Hayes. President Hayes was not an inventor, but we
deduct two votes from his party under the "acts unbecoming of a
president" clause instituted at the beginning of this column. Some
might even say that Hayes' offense, like Johnson's, was an
impeachable one. What was his crime?
Upon seeing a demonstration of
Alexander Graham Bell's telephone in 1876, Hayes failed to realize
its benefits at first. He remarked, "That's an amazing invention,
but who would ever want to use one of them?" By the way, the middle
initial "B" in his name stands for "Birchard."
Another Republican, Teddy Roosevelt,
gets two votes for the teddy bear that bears his name. Roosevelt
didn't patent the teddy bear, because he's not the one who created
it. It was invented by Morris Michtom, who named it after the
president and presented it to him as a gift in 1903.
Deduct three votes for the
Republican Party for Richard Nixon's impeachment and subsequent
resignation. His negative votes get canceled out by Democrat Bill
Clinton's impeachment, though.
So there you have it -- the entire
215-year history of presidential inventions in a nutshell. Now it's
time to count up the votes to see which party will occupy the White
House for the next four years. Drumroll, please.
The votes are in, and it doesn't
look good for either party. The Republicans, with Lincoln, Hayes,
Roosevelt and Nixon, have minus one vote, while the Democrats have
minus three votes because of Clinton's impeachment. This means that
Thomas Jefferson's party is the winner. To which party did Jefferson
He was a member of -- and I'm not
making this up -- the Democratic-Republican Party. When Jefferson
was first elected president, in 1801, the nation didn't have the
same two-party system that it has today. There were other political
parties during the 1800s, such as the Federalists and the Whigs.
I think we need a recount.
Invention Mysteries is written each
week by Paul Niemann. He can be reached at
© Copyright Paul Niemann 2004