Men of Progress

Throughout the 1800s, homegrown American scientists and inventors were a source of pride for the fledgling republic, which was rapidly surpassing Great Britain and the rest of Europe as a hotbed of industrial activity. The period also coincided with the peak of the Romantic Period in art, music, and literature. Accordingly, a host of contemporary children’s books, fawning biographies, and sentimental paintings like Christian Schussele’s Men of Progress lionized American inventors by portraying them as heroic figures.

William Thomas Greene Morton, 1819–1868

James Bogardus, 1800–1874

Colt Holster Model Paterson Revolver No. 5, 1839

Samuel Colt, 1814–1862

Cyrus McCormick, 1809–1884

Joseph Saxton, 1799–1873

Peter Cooper, 1791–1883

Joseph Henry, 1797-1878

John Ericsson, 1803–1889

Joseph Henry’s experimental electromagnet, 1829

Erastus Brigham Bigelow, 1814-1879

Charles Goodyear, 1800-1860

Goodyear rubber napkin ring, 1850s

Goodyear rubber napkin ring, 1850s

Jordan L. Mott and Eliphalet Nott, 1799-1866 and 1773-1866

Frederick E. Sickels, 1819–1895

Samuel F. B. Morse, 1791–1872

Henry Burden, 1791–1871

Morse-Vail Telegraph Key, 1844

Richard March Hoe, 1812–1886

Isaiah Jennings, 1792–1862

Thomas Blanchard, 1788–1864

Elias Howe, 1819–1867