Why you should care
Because it takes more than brains and hard work to build a successful business.
Their names live on in the companies and institutions they created, but OZY’s Sean Braswell reminds us that there’s more to the story.
“I don’t know anything about history, and I wouldn’t give a nickel for all the history in the world,” Henry Ford told the Chicago Tribune in 1916. Three years later, the newspaper’s lawyers found themselves trying to prove Ford’s avowed ignorance in a court of law, and this time it was the Tribune that was refusing to give a nickel for libeling the powerful industrialist — even if the actual verdict was a whopping 6 cents. In the course of that famous trial, the American public would be treated to a romp through the shallow depths of a prominent figure’s mind. Read the story here.
If the name Samuel Colt has become synonymous with guns, it’s no accident. It was precisely his intention. The bearded industrialist may not have invented the revolver whose design he perfected, but he was a pioneer in everything from production lines to political lobbying to mass marketing and celebrity endorsements, and, more than any other man, he is responsible for fanning the flames of America’s passion for privately owned firearms. Read the story here.
As founders of major American universities go, John Harvard — a childless clergyman who died from TB at age 30 — is a relative anomaly. Many of the country’s best colleges, from Yale to Stanford to Duke, are the well-endowed, insouciant offspring of a young nation’s wealthiest men — the great titans of industry whose grit, foresight and willingness to bend, and sometimes break, both the law and those in their employ helped them to accumulate massive fortunes. The munificence of these philanthropists has educated millions, but they were far, far from saints. Read the story here.