Who invented the automobile? Obama claims it was the United States. History 101 Score: F.

Duncan Riley - Author

Jun. 15 2013, Updated 6:01 p.m. ET

President Obama gave his first speech to Congress this evening to talk up the bailout and his administration’s policies on everything from foreign policy to manufacturing.

The short version of the speech goes like this. Bailout, money, banks, more money, wars, more money, Gitmo, lead by example, more money.

But there was one line in the speech that is raising eyebrows:

“And I believe the nation that invented the automobile cannot walk away from it.”

We could be flippant and suggest that given how grossly inaccurate the line is, that maybe the US Government should walk away from the industry.

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For the record, the answer to the question who invented the automobile is Karl Benz in Germany in 1885-86. If we want to be more pedantic, Benz invented the first true automobile, that is a car that runs on gasoline. The first “horseless carriage” was created by Frenchman Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot in 1769 (steam powered) and a Scot by the name of Robert Anderson created an electric vehicle in the 1830s. The first automobile made in the United States came along in 1893.


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