1902 Encyclopedia > Samuel Colt

Samuel Colt
American inventor and industrialist

SAMUEL COLT (1814-1862), the inventor of the revolver, was born at Hartford, Connecticut, where his father possessed a manufactory of silks and woollens. At ten years old he left school for the factory, and at fourteen he made a runaway voyage to India, during which he made a wooden model, yet existing, of what was afterwards to be the revolver. On his return he learned chemistry from his father's bleaching and dyeing manager, and travelled over the United States and Canada lecturing on that science. The profits of two years of this work enabled him to continue his researches and experiments. In 1835 he visited Europe, and patented his inventions in London and Paris, securing the American right on his return; and the same year he founded the Patent Arms Company, for the manufacture of his revolvers only. The scheme did not succeed; some use was indeed made of the arms, but they were not generally appreciated ; and in 1842 the company became insolvent. No revolvers were made for five years; and none were to be had when Taylor sent from Mexico for a supply. The Government ordered 1000 from the inventor; but before these could be produced he had to construct a new model, for a pistol of the company's make could nowhere be found. This commission was the beginning of an immense success. The little armoury at Whitneyville (New Haven, Connecticut), where the order for Mexico was executed, was soon exchanged for larger workshops at Hartford, the inventor's birthplace. These in their turn gave place (1852) to the enormous factory, doubled in 1861, on the banks of the Connecticut River, whence so many millions of revolvers, with all their appendages, have issued, and whence was sent, for the Russian and English Governments, to Tula and Enfield, the whole of the elaborate machinery devised by Colt for the manufacture of his pistols.

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