“The good people in this world are very far from being satisfied with each other and my arms are the best peacemaker.” ~ Samuel Colt (1852)
Sam Colt was a young seaman serving aboard the ship Corvo. He was intrigued by all thing mechanical and while at sea took note of the workings of the ship, particularly the capstan and the windlass, rotating machines used to raise ropes, cables, and hawsers. A spark ignited in Sam Colt’s young mind, and Sam quickly conceived the idea of a pistol with a revolving cylinder that would contain several bullets yet be fired through a single barrel. By the time that sea voyage ended, he had carved a prototype for his revolver out of wood.
Sam patented his idea in 1836 and opened his first gun making plant at the age of 22 in Paterson, New Jersey with the help of a successful uncle. He soon developed & produced the pocket, belt, and holster model pistols along with two types of rifles. Among his first customers was John Coffee Hays of the Texas Rangers, who not only purchased Colt’s revolvers for himself but his men.
Sales for the early guns were slow, however, and in 1842 the factory closed. When war with Mexico broke out in 1846 US Army Captain Samuel Hamilton Walker wanted a new, more powerful revolver. Colt returned to gun manufacturing, partnering with Eli Whitney Jr. who had a factory in Connecticut, to fill an order for one thousand guns.
The new six-shot revolver, the Model 1847, was named the “Walker”, and it was the largest handgun manufactured by Colt’s company. As Sam Colt remarked, “It would take a Texan to shoot it.”
When it came to the production of revolvers, Colt was a pioneer of interchangeable parts and the assembly line. By 1856, Colt was producing 150 weapons a day, and the reputation of his firearms as accurate, reliable, and of the finest workmanship & design had spread throughout the world. It is estimated that in its first 25 years of manufacturing, Colt’s company produced over 400,000 revolvers
Colt’s success brought him fame & fortune. He became one of the ten wealthiest businessmen in the US, a pillar of the Hartford community, and was awarded the honorary title of “Colonel” by the governor of Connecticut. He and his wife Elizabeth built Armsmear, their private mansion with greenhouses & formal gardens at the western edge of the armory property in Hartford, where it still stands today.
“God made some men (and women) small, and some men large, but Samuel Colt made them equal”