Charles Goodyear

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Goodyear lived to see his invention I create a major industry—though the company that bore his name was founded years after his death. But he never seemed to make any money himself. When Napoleon III awarded him the Grand Medal of Honor and the Cross of the Legion of Honor for his showing at the 1855 Exposition Universelle in Paris, the emperor found Goodyear in a debtors’ prison on the outskirts of the city. When he died in 1860, Goodyear was some two hundred thousand dollars in debt.

In later years, however, his penury had ceased to bother him.“[I] am not disposed to repine and say that [I have] planted and others have gathered the fruits,” he wrote once.“The advantages of a career … should not be estimated exclusively by the standard of dollars and cents, as it is too often done. Man has just cause for regret when he sows and nobody reaps.”