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Power StrugglesScientific Authority and the Creation of Practical Electricity Before Edison$
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Michael Brian Schiffer

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780262195829

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: August 2013

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262195829.001.0001

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The Blacksmith’s Motor

The Blacksmith’s Motor

(p.63) 7 The Blacksmith’s Motor
Power Struggles

Michael Brian Schiffer

The MIT Press

This chapter explains the invention of the electric motor by Thomas Davenport, who was a born into a poor family in Vermont. At 14, he was apprenticed to a blacksmith’s firm to learn the trade in exchange for lodging and elementary education. In 1833, Davenport purchased the electromagnet created by Joseph Henry, broke it open, and created a more powerful one on a large iron horseshoe with several coils of copper wire wound around it. In 1834, Davenport was successful in creating an electromagnetic motor with help from his mechanic neighbor. This invention inspired him to travel to Washington to apply for a patent. However, after arriving in Washington, Davenport sold the engine to Stephen Van Rensselaer for a meager sum of $30.

Keywords:   Thomas Davenport, blacksmith, Joseph Henry, horseshoe, patent, electromagnetic motor, Washington, Stephen Van Rensselaer

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