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Congresswoman Clarke Recognizes Thomas Jennings

Brooklyn, N.Y. – Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke has co-sponsored a resolution in Congress to honor the achievements of Thomas Jennings, the first African-American to be granted a patent by the United States.

Congressman Hakeem Jeffries and more than a dozen colleagues introduced H.Res. 514, which honors Mr. Jennings for his accomplishments, commends him for his contributions to the Unites States, and recognizes his inventive contribution for encouraging Americans to continue a legacy of innovation.   

Jennings, a well-known custom-tailor, was a small business owner in New York City.  During the course of his business practice, Mr. Jennings invented a cleaning process called “dry scouring,” which was the predecessor to dry cleaning.  He applied for and was granted a patent for dry scouring on March 3, 1821.

“Thomas Jennings, born in New York in 1791, used his extraordinary abilities to develop a method of cleaning clothes – while protecting the fabric – that has become essential to us today,” said Congresswoman Clarke. “It is my hope that his success in obtaining a patent for dry scourging will continue to inspire the generation that follow us to become engineers, scientists, mathematicians, and inventors. We have a responsibility to allow every child with these interests to pursue their dreams.”


According to a study conducted by the National Science Foundation, only one in ten employed scientists and engineers are women or persons of color. For America to remain competitive, that must change.

U.S. Representative Yvette D. Clarke is a member of the House Committee on Small Business, Ethics, and Homeland Security, where she is the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection, and Security Technologies. She represents many neighborhoods in central and southern Brooklyn, NY which include Brownsville, Crown Heights, East Flatbush, Flatbush, Gerritsen Beach, Madison, Midwood, parts of Park Slope and Flatlands, Prospect Heights, Prospect-Lefferts Gardens, Sheepshead Bay, and Windsor Terrace.