Lucky to Be Free
Jennings was a talented inventor, but he was lucky. Until about 1861, enslaved Black people could not get patents for the inventions they created, and their work would be credited to the masters. However, Jennings was born free, so he could get a patent. His luck awarded him a chance to create a business and build a fortune.
This fortune he gained may have contributed to his work as an abolitionist. In 1831, he became the assistant secretary for the First Annual Convention of the People of Color in Philadelphia to combat slavery and racism in the United States.