Today's new recruit is Benjamin Bradley, slave, engineer, and inventor. Born a slave in Maryland around 1830, as a teenager he was put to work in an office where he built a working steam engine from scrap metal. His skills were so impressive that he was given a job as an assistant in the science department of the United States Naval Academy. He was paid in full, but his owner kept all of the monies bar $5/month. Nonetheless, Benjamin saved and ended up purchasing his own freedom. He also designed and built a steam engine large enough to power a warship, but because he was a slave, could not hold a patent.
Benjamin Bradley on Wikipedia