By Michael E. Palmer, 11-4-13
Do you or does someone you know possess an artificial leg? Well, if so, you can thank Benjamin Franklin Palmer, of Meredith, New Hampshire. Palmer was a 19th century inventor who received a patent for his prosthetic on November 4, 1846. The legs became known as "Palmer Legs." After the American Civil War, in which thousands of young men lost their lower appendages, the "Palmer Legs" became quite popular. In September 1862 just as the maimed soldiers were returning home by the thousands, the New York Times reported that the United States Congress had set aside fifteen thousand dollars for the purchase of artificial limbs for the maimed soldiers. “And Mr. PALMER,” the paper stated, “whose invention is recognized by the various scientific bodies of Europe and America as infinitely beyond that of any other, desirous that the soldiers should have none but the best, has generously offered to take the sum specified, and to apply it, without profit to himself, to the construction of as many of his artificial limbs as the amount will pay for.
Such an offer, at a time when selfishness and avarice might reasonably look for a vast fortune to be made from the necessities of our wounded men, deserves the highest commendation, and Mr. PALMER, should receive, as he deserves, the thankful recognition of the public for this promotion of the National good and of much individual happiness."