Research and Learn Black History in 2021: Thomas Jennings Invents and Patents “Dry Scouring,” A Precursor to Current Dry Cleaning Methods

In 1820, (Thomas Jennings) applied for a patent. Under the Patent Act of 1793, an individual had to sign an oath declaring that he was a citizen of the United States. Jennings, being a freeman, was a citizen and so was awarded the patent.

National Inventors Hall of Fame

Thomas Jennings 1/1/1791- 2/11/1859

Unhappy with conventional methods of cleaning, Jennings discovers a more effective method (“dry scouring”) that did not harm clothes.

Jennings emerged as a leader in the abolitionist and civil rights movement in New York City. 

After Jennings’ death, Frederick Douglass stressed that Jennings’ U.S. Patent recognized him as a “citizen of the United States,” a “shocking” designation for many during that time.

Learn more by following the links:

Wikipedia- Thomas L. Jennings’ Biography

Smithsonian Magazine- More on Jennings’ “Dry Scouting” Patent

National Inventors Hall of Fame- Jennings’ Induction

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