Everybody – and all of you, gun-lovers, in particular – knows that “God made men but Sam Colt made them equal”. It’s quite a praise to be named under the same breath with the Creator himself but Colt deserves every ounce of this praise and more. A 19th-century man, he managed to live a truly Renaissance life that was short and bright as a comet.
The United States of America is famous for its clichés and buzzwords. “Self-made man” is one of those, and – like many clichés – it doesn’t have too many examples to support it. Colt was one such example (and undoubtedly one of the most striking ones). A son of a small manufacturer of silk and woolens, Sam never even graduated from school. His knowledge of chemistry was incidental, his grasp of his future biggest invention – intuitive. His first revolver was made out of wood. All that didn’t prevent him from becoming one of the most successful manufacturers in history.
If you are about to create an empire, you’d better start early. Colt took out to sea at 13 and, upon his return to the US, he spent three years on North American roads earning his daily bread as an itinerant showman. When he obtained his first revolver patent he still was a very young man. Everything about Colt’s life and personality was quite unorthodox but he did share one particular disappointment with many other prominent people – and that was rejection. The government refused to buy his revolver, his private sales were insufficient, and Colt had to close down his factory and stay out of business for more than four years.
Colt entered history as a proof that reality could be more unbelievable than any fairy-tale. The reversal of his fortune came almost overnight in shape and form of the Mexican war in 1846. Suddenly the government needed the revolvers, and Colt was there to produce them from the scratch. Within five years he started building the biggest arms factory in the world. Ten years later he died at the age of 48 when his success was at its very pinnacle. It was almost as if Colt left this world by choice, in order not to spoil a perfect life that had completely fulfilled its purpose.