Robert Cornelius (1809-1893) was a lamp manufacturer from Philadelphia, USA. In the late 1830s, he started spending much of his free time messing around with photography.
Due to his profession, he already had some knowledge regarding chemistry. One day he took a picture of himself with crossed arms, which he called “the first picture ever taken”. Of course, this was incorrect. Nevertheless, it is very likely the oldest image of an American citizen (or any one person on the continent). A few years after taking the picture, Cornelius discontinued his hobby. The reason is unknown. Perhaps his 8 kids kept him busy or there was simply no money in it for him.
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Photo Credits / Sources:
Robert Cornelius [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons