Leonard C. Bailey

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Leonard C. Bailey (1825–1918) was an African-American business owner and inventor.

Born into poverty, Bailey initially found work as a barber, building up a string of barber shops in Washington D.C.[1]

He invented and received patents for a series of devices, many designed for military or government use. These included a folding bed,[2] 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.[3][4][1] 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. and during the Panic of 1893 maintained its solvency through obtaining a personal loan from a national bank.[1]

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.[4]

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. [5]

He died September 1, 1918 of sudden illness.


  1. ^ a b c Union League of the District of Columbia (1901). The Twentieth Century Union League Directory: A Compilation of the Efforts of the Colored People of Washington for Social Betterment ... A Historical, Biographical, and Statistical Study of Colored Washington at the Dawn of the Twentieth Century and After a Generation of Freedom.
  2. ^ US, Leonard C. Bailey, "Folding Bed" 
  3. ^ Theda Perdue (1 October 2011). Race and the Atlanta Cotton States Exposition of 1895. University of Georgia Press. ISBN 978-0-8203-4201-6.
  4. ^ a b Patricia Carter Sluby (2004). The Inventive Spirit of African Americans: Patented Ingenuity. Greenwood Publishing Group. ISBN 978-0-275-96674-4.
  5. ^ "Application, National Register of Historic Places" (PDF). dhr.virginia.gov. Retrieved 2015-02-24.