Abraham Lincoln nursed a life-long fascination with technology. William Herndon, his friend and law partner, called attention to his “decided bent toward machinery or mechanical appliances.” Lincoln is the only President to have been awarded a patent; handled several patent cases during his years as an attorney; and offered public lectures on invention and innovation. During the American Civil War President Lincoln seldom missed an opportunity to investigate new weapons, or to sponsor what seemed to him to be a useful innovation. In the summer of 1861, at the urging of Smithsonian Secretary Joseph Henry, Lincoln made the acquaintance of balloonist T.S.C. Lowe, and witnessed demonstrations of the role that observation balloons might play in providing improved reconnaissance for the Union Army. The President not only encouraged Lowe’s plan to form a Balloon Corps to serve with the Army of the Potomac, but intervened on his behalf when military officials proved less than enthusiastic about the experiment. With the help of the President, Lowe was able to create and equip the Balloon Corps, which saw extensive service from 1861 to 1863. Students and teachers at a variety of levels will find something of interest and value in this session, which will explore the problems encountered in introducing a conservative military establishment to a new technology. In the process, we will shed new light on an unfamiliar side of Abraham Lincoln. The session will be led by Tom Crouch, Senior Curator, Aeronautics Division, National Air and Space Museum.