Facebook was Abraham Lincoln's idea? Oh, please

Lincoln allegedly wanted to patent a way of keeping up with everyone in town, but the patent was rejected. So ran a story that captivated the Web, which is utter tripe.

The complete hoax.
Nate St. Pierre

So today we were asked to imagine the case of Abraham Lincoln (and his heirs) against Mark Zuckerberg.

For the Web was taken by the idea that President Lincoln had once tried to patent an idea that was very similar to Facebook.

Lincoln was neither so half-witted, nor so trivial to wonder what his neighbor's dog had eaten for dinner.

The Lincoln Museum's spokesman, Dave Blanchette, told me very bluntly: "It is a complete but clever hoax."

Earlier, many like the Next Web got excited over the discovery by self-styled builder of things Nate St. Pierre that Abraham Lincoln attempted to patent something that would allow people to know more about folks in their town. Yes, in 1845.

I am not sure newspapers could actually print pictures back then.

But St. Pierre describes a visit to the Lincoln Museum in Springfield, Ill. -- where he says he met a man called Matt-- in which he espied something that looked like a newspaper, but was purportedly a patent application.

He wrote:

"The first column underneath his picture contains a bunch of short blurbs about what's going on in his life at the moment -- work he recently did, some books the family bought, and the new games his boys made up. In the next three columns he shares a quote he likes, two poems, and a short story about the Pilgrim Fathers. I don't know where he got them, but they're obviously copied from somewhere. In the last three columns he tells the story of his day at the circus and tiny little story about his current life on the prairie.

It was Facebook, clear as day. Ho. Ho.

And to think that some enterprising Illinois lawyers had surely begun to sharpen their quills and minds and now make it their life's work to take this case on and lead it beyond the Supreme Court and into Hollywood.

As the Museum's Blanchette told me of St.Pierre's tall story: "We did not meet with him, and no one by the name of Matt works here. Lincoln is the only President to hold a patent, but it was for a device to help riverboats that became stuck on sandbars. That is a far cry from Facebook."

And, some would say, far more fascinating.