Born on 9 July 1802 at Williamstown, Vermont, Thomas Davenport was an American Vermont blacksmith who constructed the first American DC electric motor in 1834 and built an electric car in 1835. Based on the concept of battery-powered electric motor, he operated a small model car on a short section of track which provided the way for the later electrification of streetcars.

Davenport received the first American patent(Patent No. 132) on an electric machine in 1837 with his wife Emily, and a colleague Orange Smalley. . In 1851, Charles Grafton Page drove an electric car on the tracks of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, from Washington to Bladensburg, at the rate of nineteen miles an hour. However, the cost of batteries was too great and the use of the electric motor in transportation not yet practical.

Davenport later started a workshop in New York City, New York, and published a journal on electromagnetism (it was printed on a press that was powered by motors which he devised).