Leonard C Bailey

Leonard C. Bailey

Leonard C. Bailey was a black business owner and inventor. He was born in 1825 to a free black family.[1] Growing up in poverty, Bailey worked as a barber and built up a string of barbershops in Washington D.C.[2]

He invented and received patents for a series of devices, many designed for military or government use. These included a folding bed,[3] a rapid mail-stamping machine, a device to shunt trains to different tracks, and a hernia truss adopted into wide use by the U.S. military. Bailey had to escape from a military camp after there was an attempt to capture him as a slave while he was dropping off his inventions.[4][5][2] These inventions provided him with a sizable income.

He helped establish the Capital Savings Bank of Washington D.C., one of the first African-American owned banks in the U.S. During the Panic of 1893, the bank maintained its solvency by obtaining a personal loan from a national bank.[2]

He was a member of the first mixed-race jury in Washington D.C., which found Millie Gaines not guilty of murder by reason of insanity.[5]

He served as a member of the board of directors of the Manassas Industrial School for Colored Youth where a residence hall was named after him. [6]

He died September 1, 1918 of sudden illness. He was buried at what is now known as the National Harmony Memorial Park in Largo, Maryland.[5]


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