Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 53.djvu/711

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business of his father, and in 1824 married Clarissa Beecher. She was devoted to her husband, and endured without complaint the hard vicissitudes of life which befell them in his long pursuit of his discovery. In 1826 he opened a store in Philadelphia for the sale of hardware, principally the products of their own factory. It was the first for the sale of domestic hardware in the country. Under his management the house acquired an ample fortune, but failed in 1830. It was a great trial to Goodyear, yet he submitted without regrets or loss of courage to what he considered providential.

The next ten years he was repeatedly arrested for debt, not wishing to take the benefit of the bankrupt law. He strove to complete his inventions in hardware, and from the sale of one of them, completed in prison, obtained temporary subsistence. He does not seem to have been depressed, but rather to have grown stronger by reliance on a clear conscience and a lofty purpose. Soon after his reduction from affluence to poverty he decided to devote himself to invention; partly because he felt it would be difficult for him to get rid of the epithets "inventor" and "visionary," so often considered synonymous. Moreover, he is said to have felt himself divinely called by his aptitude, his past course, his circumstances, and a strong inward impulse.

As a schoolboy his attention was drawn to the mysterious property of India rubber. A thin pellicle peeled from a bottle attracted his notice, and suggested that it would be very useful as a fabric if it could be made uniformly so thin and so prepared as to prevent its adhering together and becoming a solid mass, as it soon did from the warmth and pressure of the hand. So his mind was dwelling upon the problem before Thomas Hancock in England made his first unsatisfactory solutions of rubber in oil of turpentine about 1819. The substance began to be known in the United States in 1820; its manufacture to attract attention about 1831.

Modern Europe was unacquainted with rubber until the discovery of America. Uncertainty reigned, some supposing it of animal origin, until 1736. From that time savants busied themselves with it. Hancock introduced the first mechanical processes (from 1818), molding, ink-erasers, etc.; Mackintosh his benzene solution and garments in 1823. The shoes made by the South American Indians had been favorably received in Europe; but, at the critical period in the United States, and likewise from deterioration of the gum, the public was abandoning them and many other articles of rubber fabrication.

In the United States rubber became a subject of investigation, and Dr. Comstock obtained a patent in 1828 for its solution in oil of turpentine and its application to stuffs. The first practical success