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  • Writer's pictureTim Simpson

Only in America

He was born on July 19, 1814.

He was an American inventor and industrialist from Hartford, Connecticut.

His father, a farmer had moved his family to the city after he became a businessman.

At age 11, he was indentured to a farmer in Glastonbury, where he did chores and attended school.

Here he was introduced to the Compendium of Knowledge.

In this book He discovered that other inventors in the Compendium had accomplished things that were once deemed impossible.

In 1829, at the age of 15, he began working in his father's textile plant in Ware, Massachusetts, where he had access to tools, materials, and the factory workers' expertise.

He built a homemade galvanic cell and advertised as a Fourth of July event in that year that he would blow up a raft on Ware Pond using underwater explosives; although the raft was missed, the explosion was still impressive.

Sent to boarding school, he amused his classmates with pyrotechnics.

In 1830, a July 4 accident caused a fire that ended his schooling, and his father then sent him off to learn the how to be a seaman.

When he returned to the United States in 1832, he went back to work for his father, who financed the production of two guns, a rifle and a pistol.

He had learned about nitrous oxide (laughing gas) from the factory chemist in his father's textile plant, so he took a portable lab on the road and earned a living performing laughing gas demonstrations across the United States and Canada.

Having some money saved and keeping his idea alive of being an inventor, he made arrangements to begin building guns using proper gunsmiths from Baltimore, Maryland, a dream he had from inventing explosives.

In 1835, he traveled to the United Kingdom, following in the footsteps of Elisha Collier, a Bostonian who had patented a revolving flintlock that achieved great popularity.

With a loan from his cousin, Dudley Selden, and letters of recommendation from Ellsworth, he formed a corporation of venture capitalists in April 1836 to bring his ideas to market.

Constant problems for him were the provisions of the Militia Act of 1808 which stated that any arms purchased by a State militia had to be in current service in the United States Military. This Act prevented state militias from allocating funds towards the purchase of experimental weapons or foreign weapons.

He undermined his own company by his reckless spending.

His company was briefly saved by the war against the Seminoles in Florida which provided the first sale of his revolvers and his new revolving rifles.

During the American Civil War, he supplied both the North and the South with firearms.

Samuel Colt died of gout in Hartford on January 10, 1862, and was buried in Cedar Hill Cemetery. At the time of his death, Colt's estate, which he left to his wife and three-year-old son Caldwell Hart Colt, was estimated to be valued at around $15 million His professional responsibilities were turned over to his brother-in-law, Richard Jarvis. The only other person mentioned in Colt's will was Samuel Caldwell Colt, the son of his brother, John.

All of the above facts can be found in any public domain library on the internet catalog of Samuel Colt and many book publications as well.

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