Well before becoming the 16th president of the United States, the young Abraham Lincoln was known for his interest in engineering and mechanics. A childhood centered on agriculture suited Lincoln's curiosity well.
He loved the culture of designing and inventing new objects, especially anything that had the potential to improve or refine the efficiency of labor. Later in life, he expressed a belief that an inventor should have exclusive rights to his design for a period of time after completion. This, he said, might inspire more people to invent solutions to their problems.
It's fitting, then, that Abraham Lincoln became the first -- and so far, only -- U.S. president to gain official recognition as an inventor by being granted a patent. His invention, a device intended to help boats navigate shallows, was the result of an adolescence spent boating along the rivers of the Midwest.