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David Bushnell
David Bushnell
American, 1742 - 1824
Biography: David Bushnell was born about 1742 on his father's farm in Saybook, Connecticut. When he and his brother inherited the farm upon his father's death, he sold his share and moved into town to prepare for college. He entered Yale, and completed the four-year course in 1775. In the same year at Saybrook, he completed a project of building a man-propelled submarine boat. The outside shell had a wooden magazine attached containing gunpowder and a clock mechanism for igniting it at any particular time. The boat was built entirely of heavy oak beams, and some said resembled a turtle in shape. Between 1776-1777, several attempts were made to blow up Bristish ships, but those attempts were never successful, partially due to the fact that it was difficult to find a capable operator for the machine, as Bushnell was too frail to do it himself. He was forced to give up on the project, and although it was viewed as a failure at the time, he is now considered the father of the submarine.