U.S. President Donald Trump and Alexander Graham Bell are making headlines today. This comes after President Trump gave a passionate speech on Thursday to celebrate American Independence on July 4. During his talk, Trump celebrated the achievements of successful and notable inventors throughout American history, such as Thomas Edison, the Wright brothers, and, well, Alexander Graham Bell.
While the sentiment was there, Trump didn’t even have time to catch his breath before his speech was being torn apart online by many confused Canadians. Namely, because a lot of people don’t consider Alexander Graham Bell to be an American. In fact, within minutes, Alexander Graham Bell quickly became one of the Twitter’s top trending topics in Canada, as many questioned to what extent Trump could accurately claim Bell’s legacy as an “American triumph”.
Speaking in front of the Lincoln Memorial on Thursday, Trump said, “Our quest for greatness unleashed a culture of discovery that led Thomas Edison to imagine his lightbulb, Alexander Graham Bell to create the telephone, the Wright Brothers to look to the sky and see the next great frontier.”
Trump is, to some degree, correct. Despite the backlash, reports confirm that Bell was indeed an American citizen, but not until 1882, seven years after the telephone model was completed. It turns out, Bell actually held a sort-of 'triple-citizenship.'
In fact, Bell was a pretty worldly guy. He was born in Scotland in 1847, before moving with his family to Brantford, Ontario, in 1870. Shortly after, in 1874, his work began to create the telephone. According to archives, the inspiration for the telephone actually came to Bell while he watched the currents of the Grand River, in Brantford, and he wondered if sound could be transmitted by controlling the current.
However, after the U.S. granted a patent for the telephone in 1876, and the ‘Bell Telephone Company’ was created in 1877, Bell became a naturalized American citizen in 1882, after marrying his wife. Bell returned to Canada regularly throughout the rest of his life, holidaying with his family in Baddeck, Nova Scotia. When he died in 1922, he was buried in Canada, in the place spent his summers.
So, Bell was born in Scotland, lived in Canada, where he invented and then created the telephone, inspired by a Canadian river. He then went on to live in the U.S.A for many years, before being laid to rest back in Nova Scotia. It’s a tough one!
Unfortunately, we will probably never truly know where it was that Alexander Graham Bell truly considered himself to be from. That said, we can assume based on his frequent visits back to Nova Scotia, that he truly did love Canada, eh?