Happy Birthday, Thomas Davenport

On July 9, 1802, Thomas Davenport was born in Vermont. He built the first direct current motor in the U.S. at age 32. But invention of the motor made no money for Davenport. Running motors with batteries was too expensive. Sales didn't take off until the electric grid developed decades later to power motors. They say timing is everything.

Davenport was best known in his day for calling out Charles Page who had won a large federal government contract to build an electromagnetic locomotive. This boondoggle was made clear to all when the test run failed spectacularly.

Page was deservedly credited though for exposing the greatest fraud of the mid-1880s. He investigated the Fox sisters who were enriching themselves performing public séances. Page publicized that the raps were not from the spirits but from the sisters themselves.