The well-known inventors of mid-nineteenth-century America-Elias Howe, Cyrus McCormick, Samuel F. B. Morse-were celebrated as national benefactors. Aspiring inventors regarded applying for a patent not just as a key step on the road to potential wealth, but as a patriotic duty-a contribution to the country's betterment and future. Solidly within this style, Joseph Francis confidently called his buoyant boat the "great American life boat." He declared with pride that "the model and application of the buoyant power which I now claim...is the best and safest for life boats and all other boats and vessels...it is different from and an improvement on all former invention by me and any other person...."
In fact, the 1841 patent represented by this model is but a minor alteration to his first patent, an 1839 design for a double-bottomed boat fitted with buoyant air cylinders. His second attempt simply added additional tanks to the boat's ends and flattened the bottom of the hull, to enable it "to sit upright when left by a retiring surge upon a rock bar or beach, where other modeled boats would be upset."
Joseph Francis, Life Boat, U.S. patent no. 2,018, Mar. 26, 1841.
Joseph Francis, Life and Anchor Boat, U.S. patent no. 1,067, Jan. 11, 1839.