Peter Cooper The Inventor
( Originally Published 1902 )
PETER COOPER was of such an inquisitive turn of mind that he made some new discovery in about every field of employment which he tried in his earlier years. As a workman in the carriage factory, he invented a new hub for a buggy-wheel. Employed at another place, he patented a pair of shears for cutting cloth. Being domesticated in his disposition, he used to help take care of the children and attend to the housework; but, as he kept his books and did considerable figuring at home, he made a cradle which rocked itself, with a fan for keeping the flies off the baby, and a music-box to entertain and put it to sleep. He built the " Tom Thumb," the first locomotive engine ever made in this country, and ran the first car by steam over the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. He discovered numerous appliances for the use of anthracite coal in the making of iron. The first invention out of which he made any considerable money was his shears for cutting cloth. When he had made the first five-hundred dollars out of it he was highly elated, and had several plans for its expenditure. But he learned that his father was seriously embarrassed financially, likely to " go to the wall," and he gave him his five hundred dollars, all he had in the world. And he never ceased to be thankful for the fact that he had saved his father from bankruptcy. He was already moving toward that large-hearted benevolence which brought such blessing to his fellows, and honor to himself.