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Primary Sources: Samuel Colt: I Won't Be Second
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The Connecticut man who brought the world the revolver and advances in mass production gave his half-brother, who sought a government job, some career advice. Although he counseled against working for Uncle Sam, Colt had been a beneficiary of the government, selling his weapons to the U.S. military.

To be a clerk or office holder under the pay and patronage of the government is to stagnate ambition and hope. By heavens I would rather be captain of a small boat than to have the biggest office in the gift of the government. I have never forgot a saying, almost the first that I remember in life, at least among the most impressive. "It is better to be at the head of a louse than the tail of a lion." Its sentiment took deep root in my heart and too has been the mark which has controlled and shaped my destiny.

If I can't be first I won't be second in anything. The little reputation I have gained for originality of thought and conception has grown out of the impression made by that simple adage and however inferior in wealth I may be to many who surround me I would not exchange for their treasure the satisfaction I have in knowing I have done what never before has been accomplished by man. Money is a thrash I have always looked down upon.

That I have never had any to know how to appreciate it, it is true. Neither would I now, were my income that of John Jacob Astor. Why not aspire to something higher? Why not seek to be the government itself? Select the object of your ambition, uninfluenced and untrammeled and reach its zenith or die in the attempt. Life is a thing to be enjoyed. Make up your mind determinedly what station in life you will reach and, rely upon it, with proper exertion you will not be thwarted.




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