Samuel Colt was born at Hartford, Connecticut, on the 19th of July, 1814. He was descended from one of the original settlers of that city, and his father, who possessed some means, was a man of great energy, intelligence, and enterprise. The senior Colt began life as a merchant, and afterward became a manufacturer of woolen, cotton, and silk goods. The mother of our hero was the daughter of Major John Caldwell, a prominent banker of Hartford, and is said to have been a woman of superior character and fine mental attainments.
It was within the power of the parents of Samuel Colt to give him a thorough education, and this they were anxious to do; but he was always so full of restless energy that he greatly preferred working in the factory to going to school. He loved to be where he could hear the busy looms at work, and see the play of the intricate machinery in the great building. In order to gratify him, his father placed him in his factory at the age of ten years, and there he remained for about three years, leaving it only at rare intervals and for short periods of time, which he passed in attendance upon school and working on a farm. When he was thirteen his father declared that he would not permit him to grow up without an education, and sent him to a boarding-school at Amherst, Massachusetts. He did not remain there long, for the spirit of adventure came over him with such force that he could not resist it. He ran away from school and shipped as a boy before the mast on a vessel bound for the East Indies. The ship was called the Coroo, and was commanded by Captain Spaulding.
[Illustration: THE BOY COLT INVENTING THE REVOLVER.]
The voyage was long, and the lad was subjected to great hardships, which soon convinced him that running away to sea was not as romantic in real life as in the books he had read, but his experience, though uncomfortable enough, failed to conquer his restless spirit. While at sea in the Coroo he had an abundance of leisure time for reflection, but instead of devoting it to meditating upon the folly of his course, he spent it in inventing a revolving pistol, a rough model of which he cut in wood with his jack-knife. This was the germ of the invention which afterward gave him such fame, and it is not a little singular that the conception of such a weapon should have come to a boy of fourteen.