Inventions from the American Revolution

In honor of the upcoming United States Independence Day, we did a little research to see what sort of innovations Americans developed while war was being waged to gain that independence from Great Britain.

Understandably, Americans were a little busy fighting for their freedom between the years of 1775 and 1783 to be tinkering in their workshops, but we found three pretty cool inventions from that time period.


1776 - Turtle Submarine

According to, a student at Yale University named David Bushnell was developing underwater mines and decided that a submarine, which had been invented previously but never used for warfare, would be the best way to deliver the mines in combat. So, he designed a small submarine large enough for one person to operate.

The Patriots used the Turtle Submarine, named for its shape, to deploy stealth missions to sink British ships anchored in NY harbor. Bushnell was unable to operate the vessel himself due to health reasons, so Ezra Lee went in his place. Lee didn't have the skill to operate the complex vessel to its full capacity and was unable to cause real damage to the British fleet, but he did cause them to move further out into the harbor.

Despite the vessel's failure, George Washington commissioned Bushnell as an Army Engineer. His mines, detonated by a timer, were used to harm other British ships throughout the war, and he was later named Commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.


1776 - The Swivel Chair

While Thomas Jefferson is known as one of the founding fathers of our nation, you could also call him the founding father of the very industry we develop products for: office furniture. Jefferson took apart an old Windsor chair, and attached its four legs to one central point under the seat with an iron spindle, which allowed the seat to revolve in place. Legend has it that he sat in this very chair, which might have looked something like the one shown here, to draft the Declaration of Independence.

1782 - The Flat Boat

The first endeavor to navigate the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers for commercial purposes was undertaken in 1782 by Revolutionary War veteran, Jacob Yoder, on a rectangular boat with a flat bottom that he built specifically for the trip. Yoder freighted flour in his flatboat from what is now Fayette County Pennsylvania all the way down to New Orleans to sell there.

Happy Independence Day!

Hope you enjoyed that little history lesson as much as we did! Have a wonderful holiday (hopefully someplace far far away from your swivel chair).