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Brazilian forests ; that by the natives it was called caoutchouc; by tho chemists, from its singular elasticity, gum-elastic; and by the common people, from its valuable property of cleaning paper, India-rubber. Its physical properties, indeed, as a whole, are perfectly unique. By far the most elastic substance in nature, it is insoluble in water, in alcohol, or in any of the mineral acids; but it dissolves readily in ether or naptha ; and, above all, it possesses the power of agglomerating, or, in plain language, of adhering again when cut, if the separate pieces are brought together. No other substance, we may add, is so valuable to the analytical chemist. We have the high authority of the Baron Justus von Liebig for stating, that to the increased facilities which the flexible tubes and sheets of India-rubber have given in the laboratory, we owe many of the brightest discoveries in organic chemistry.
Now, it happened about twenty-five years ago, that the method of producing thin sheets of India-rubber was applied to the invention of waterproof cloth garments; and large manufactories for this purpose were established both in Europe and in America: : The celebrated Macintosh fabrics, so popular in the days of stage-coach traveling, belong to this era of the trade. But, unfortunately, one or two awkward circumstances connected with the material, which had hitherto almost escaped notice, began to appear in the most unmistakable manner. India-rubber, it was found, like all other vegetable substances, had a tendency to unite with the oxygen of the atrosphere, and decompose ; and while perfectly elastic at all ordinary temperatures, it had the fatal peculiarity of becoming soft with heat and hard with cold. It was related in South Carolina, that a stout gentleman, traveling one day under a hot sun with a waterproof coat on, became glued up into an outer integument, from which no skill could extricate him. Another unfornate man in Michigan, who wore a Füll suit of the treacherous fábric, was seen to leave a hot room on a cold winter evening, his clothes to all appear
a ance quite soft and pliable. Next morning, he was found among the snow on the high road frozen to death, with the fatal garments around him as stiff as buckram, and as hard as iron.”
From these causes, among others we need not stay to mention, the original India-rubber manufacture gradually sunk in importance; and indeed soon became extinct. But in a few years" it was destined to rise from its ashes, and through the persevering experiments of Mr. Charles Goodyear. This gentleman, the son of a manufacturer, was born in New Haven, Connecticut, in the year 1800. He appears to have inherited a genius for invention, for his father was the inventor of several-useful articles, particularly of the spring steel hay and manure forks, which he manufactured, together with metal and pearl buttons, spoons, sythes, etc. In the year 1826, he went to Philadelphia with his family, and engaged in the domestic hardware business, in connection with the manufacturing establishment in Connecticut. This was the first establishment for the sale of domestic hardware in the United States, and was considered by many, a visionary enterprize, for to that period the whole trade in hardware had been in imported articles. It was however for a time eminently successful, and a handsome fortune was accumulated by the firm ; yet, in consequence of too extended operations in different
states, too liberal credits and heavy losses, in 1830 the firm was obliged to suspend payments.
About two years after this the manufacture of gum-elastic was begun in the United States, but not in the immediate vicinity of where he then was. He observed all he heard or could ascertain respecting it with critical interest, and commenced experimenting with it, mixing the gum by hand and spreading it on a marblo slab with a rolling pin. By the disinterested and timely aid of a friend, he was enabled to continue his experiments in this manner, and with the aid of a few hands he succeeded in making a few hundred pairs of shoes. This manufacture was carried on during the winter of 1835-6, in a small cottage in New Haven, which served also as a family residence.
The failure of these experiments was a signal one, as on the return of warm weather they all decomposed and became one mass of melted gum. * This circumstance was very discouraging, and might have induced any one of a less enthusiastic turn of mind to abandon the project altogether. But Goodyear, it should seem, was no common-place inventor. With astonishing perseverance, he set about acquiring" the chemistry of the subject; and it is pleasing to relate that in this direction his efforts were at length crowned with success. He discovered that if India-rubber were combined at a high temperature with certain proportions of sulphur and the oxide of lead, its whole physical nature was changed, that it was now proof against the process of vegetablo decay, and that it remained uniformly elastic under the most considerable variations of temperature. This singular compound he ushered into the world in due time under the title of Vulcanized India-rubber.'
During the first years of his experiments, until after he had discovered the heating or vulcanizing process, and had become certain that he had obtained his object, he made it an invariable practice to test the various experiments by wearing some article of apparel made from the material, that he might as soon as possible arrive at correct conclusions, the wearing of gume-lastic about the person being one of the severest tests. to which it can be applied. An anecdote is related which exhibits in its true light, the opinion of the public as to his enthusiasm and also as to his poverty. A gentleman, asking how he might recognize him, received for an answer, “If you meet a man who has on an India-rubber cap, stock, coat, vest, and shoes, with an Indiarubber purse without a cent of money in it, that is he !!!
Late in the summer of 1836, M1: Goodyear removed to Roxbury, Massachusetts, where he carried on his experiments with indefatigable perseverance, notwithstanding frequent imprisonments for debt, and the strong opposition of his friends. It was during the winter of 1839-40, a year after the discovery of the vulcanization process, and that he became convinced of the real value of his discovery, that the greatest discouragements were met with. During this period his family were sometimes destitute of food and fuel. The great difficulty now remained to bring the minds of others to appreciate the subject as he did himself, and it was not until some years later that the manufacture was established on a profitable basis.
The importance of this invention was very great. Vulcanized India-rubber after awhile became the rage; all sorts of things were made from it--railway springs and buffers, machinery belts, elastic bands and air-cushions, waterproof garments of every description, all kinds of bandages, and a num
ber of surgical instruments. These things all created a larye demand for the material; but it was soon found that the article which consumed most and sold best was the waterproof shoes; and in a few years after the invention was made public, there sprang up several large establishments in Connecticut, in Rhode Island, in New Jersey, and in Massachusetts, which manufacture about five million pair every year, and give employment to upward of fivo thousand people.
Similar manufactories have also been established in England, Scotland, France, and Germany. It is estimated a capital of fifty millions of dollars, is now employed in the business of Vulcanized India-rubber.
Mr. Goodyear, owing to the almost interminable lawsuits which follow upon the heels of every great invention, and the continuation of his expensive experiments in developing the applications and uses, and in improving the manufacture, has not to this day realized a competency sufficient to free him from business embarrassments. Large fortunes, however, have been made and are now making by, manufacturers in the different kinds of Indiarubber goods.
SAMUEL COLT, THE INVENTOR OF THE REPEATING FIRE-ARM. War, appears to have been one of the principal occupations of our race. But as mind in this, as in all other callings, is certain to triumph, it so results that the less cultivated nations and races are conquered by the more intellectual, who introduce the knowledge of their own arts to the vanquished, and thus in the end bless them, through an introductory suffering and defeat. War is therefore called an instrument of civilization, and, so it is, if we read rightly the lessons taught by history:
In the earlier ages of the world, wars were of long duration, for so imperfect was the knowledge of the military art and so rude the weapons in use, that great length of time was necessary to inflict enough injury upon an enemy to compel him to peace. The day however is past, when a war commenced in one's boyhood will last until he is a grandfather, and then, with a slight intermission be sitcceeded by another, of as long duration. The inventions of modern times have put an end to these interminable wars, by making them too terrible for long continuance, for they leave a memory of them so severe upon the generation engaged, that they are careful not to again rashly enter upon the arena of blood. The effect now is, wars, short and severe, with long intervals of rest, which give the nations the leisure to advance in the arts of peace. In this view this class of inventors must be judged among the benefactors of the race. If a machine were invented and could be readily used, by which a few men could instantly and unfailingly, at once destroy a thousand lives, wars among civilized nations would cease forever, and nations low in the scale would more speedily, and with comparatively little suffering, be brought under their pupilary subjection. The inventor of such a machine would prove a greater benefactor of his race, than he who should endow a thousand hospitals.
Colonel Samuel Colt, the eminent inventor of the repeating fire-arms, was born at Hartford, Connecticut, July 19, 1814. His father was a manufacturer of wool, and cotton, and finally of silk, of which last article, he es. tablished the first manufactory in New England.
When a lad, young Colt was placed at a school in Amherst, Massachusetts from whence, moved by a spirit of adventure, he ran away to Boston, and ombarked as a boy before the mast on the ship Corlis, for Calcutta. He returned buoyant in spirits, and as much determined to make his own way in the world as ever. By a short apprenticeship in the manufactory of his father, particularly in the department of dyeing and bleaching, he became familiarly acquainted with the leading principles of chemistry which he soon turned to account, for when only seventeen or eighteen years of age he traveled throughout the length and breadth of the United States, and the Canadas "under the assumed name of Dr. Coult, burned more oxygen, and administered more laughing gas, to more men, women and children, than any other lecturer, we dare affirm, since chemistry was first known as a science. Without pretension, of course, at this period of his life-then a youth of but seventeen or eighteen years of age-to anything like profoundness of scientific knowledge, he yet managed, by a ready use of such experiments as were dazzling and amusing, and by his dexterity as a manipulator, to win a favorable public opinion, and to secure, what was then of especial value to himself, a profit from his entertainments varying from five to fifty dollars a night, and occasionally reaching several hundreds of dollars in
All these profits-beyond those required for the supply of his daily wantswere sedulously devoted by the youthful adventurer to the prosecution of that great invention which has since : extended his renown throughout the civilized world. For, most remarkably, indeed, it was upon that voyage to which we have already alluded-which he made as a runaway sailor-boy to Calcutta-and while firing for amusement at porpoises and whales, off the Cape of Good Hope and in the Indian Seas, that he first conceived, and wrought out with a chisel on a spun-yarn, with a common jack-knife and a little iron rod, the rude model, in a piece of white pine, of that fire-arm which now, from the shores of the Pacific to the Japan Seas-over the whole extent of the civilized world-itself reports the triumph of his skill and olazes his fame.
With unwearied assiduity, and a confidence in an ultimately prosperous result which never wavered--though against the vaticinations and dissention of numerous relations and friends--he toiled and improved upon his pet model, until at last he engendered confidence enough in the bosorns of a few capitalists to procure the establishment, at Patterson, New Jersey, of a company, with a capital of three hundred thousand dollars, for the manufacture of his favorite arm.
After having secured, in addition to a patent at home, patents also for his invention in England and in France--countries which he personally visited for the purpose-he returned to America to urge upon his own Government the adoption of his arm. But here at first he met with no success. The supreme authorities at Washington, and officers in the public service, both civil and military, frowned upon his invention. He used the percussion cap--a bad substitute, it was thought, for the old flint-lock. His arms were more likely to get out of order than those of the old-fashioned construction, and when broken could not so easily be repaired as common arms.
These were the main objections. But Colonel Colt, nothing daunted--for discouragement is no element in his composition--met the objectors by careful ex. planations, by numerous experiments, and, what is more, by making constant improvements upon his invention. There was no suggestion, of practical value, from boards of officers convened to examine and report upon his arm, or from other quarters, to which he did not give heed-no thought of his own in this connection which he did not test by experiment-the company of which he was the soul, consuming for this purpose not less than three hundred thousand dollars--and the result was soon manifested in an arm so perfect in its construction as to rouse commendation wherever seen. Leading
M came, and the journals of the country, to a great extent; vied with each other in its praise. The first premium of the American Institute, New York, and of the Mechanics’ Institute in the same city, was, at several fairs, bestowed upon its inventor. Both Colts pistols and Colt's rifles were eulogized generally as splendid specimens of ingenuity and skill-as surpassing in beauty and correctness of workmanship the best arms of European manufacture--as handled with the greatest facility and ease--as firing with astonishing precision-and as sending forth their successive messengers of death with marvelous celerity, force and effect. These : justly merited commendations-and, what is of weightier importance still in this connection, the practical experience of military men, to a large extent; of the value of these arms-upon the battlefields of Texas, in the everglades of Florida, and amid the fastnesses and over the plains of Mexico--finally'commended their adoption by the Government of the United States. The testimony in their favor of such men as General Rusk and General Houston, of Commodore Moore, of the Texan Navy, of Jack Hayes, Ber: McCulloch, and numerous other gallant officers of the far-famed Texan Rangers, and of that brave and excellent officer, particularly, Colonel Harney, the Murat of the American army, could not be resisted. “We use them with the greatest possible success, they all affirmed. “ They have far surpassed our expectations. We would not be without them for the world !"
This last named officer, Colonel Härney first became acquainted with their merits, in the war with the Seminoles of Florida. : In the hands of his hardy mounted Rangers, they at once became the terror of the red men, and the war was soon brought to a close ; for when the Indian's saw their foes fire six times without lowering their weapons to load they knew their former tactics were useless, and surrendered.
From the period of this adoption of his arm, the prosperity of Colonel Colt-as was his just meed after years of toil
, of trial, of disappointment, but never of failure of hope, or abatement of industry-has run on in one limpid, sparkling, and unbroken stream. By contract demands for his arms from Texas--which he fulfilled, with straitened means, at Whitneyville, Connecticut-by contract demands also from the United States he was enabled to transfer his enterprise to Hartford, his own native town, upon the banks of the Connecticut, where he has at last succeeded in founding an armory, the most magnificent of its kind, it may be safely alleged, in the known world--an establishment, built in the first place by damming out & project deemed by many, in its inception, almost superhuman--the waters of the mighty Connecticut in their maddened freshet time--which