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Though he lived well before the Emancipation Proclamation would be signed in 1865, Blair was apparently not enslaved and operated an independent business.
A successful farmer, Blair patented two inventions that helped him to boost his productivity. He received his first patent — for a corn planter — on October 14, 1834. The planter resembled a wheelbarrow, with a compartment to hold the seed and rakes dragging behind to cover them.
This device would allow farmers to plant their crops more efficiently and as a result, a greater total yield. Blair signed the patent with an “X,” indicating that he was illiterate.