Temple, Lewis

SUBJECT AREA: Ports and shipping
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b. 1800 Richmond, Virginia, USA
d. 1854 New Bedford, Massachusetts, USA
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African-American inventor of the toggle harpoon for whaling.
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An African-American blacksmith, he emigrated as a young man to New Bedford, Massachusetts, and set up a shop at Coffin's Wharf that was devoted to whalecraft. In 1845 he was able to establish a blacksmith's shop at Walnut Street Wharf. There, in 1848, Temple introduced his toggle harpoon. This was found to be more effective than the barb attached to a rope used up until then, and was rapidly taken up by the whaling industry. As Temple did not patent his device, many other blacksmiths were able to make it and he gained little financial return from his invention. Injuries sustained in an accident in 1853 undermined his health and he died the following year.
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Further Reading
P.P.James, 1989, The Real McCoy: AfricanAmerican Invention and Innovation 1629– 1930, Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution, pp. 35–7.
LRD

Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

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