Elias Howe Fact Sheet: Who was Elias Howe? The following short biography and fact sheet provides interesting facts about the life, times and history of Elias Howe.
Elias Howe Fact File: Lifespan: 1819 - 1867 *** Full Name: Elias Howe, Jr. *** Occupation: American Inventor *** Date of Birth: Elias Howe was born on July 9th 1819 *** Place of Birth: Elias Howe was born in Brooklyn, New York, USA *** Family background: His father was Dr Elias Howe, Sr. and his mother was Polly Bemis *** Early life and childhood: He grew up largely in Spencer, Massachusetts *** Education: Elias Howe would have been educated at home ***
Elias Howe Fact 1: Elias Howe was born on July the 9th of 1819 during the period in history when there were massive discoveries in science, innovation and industry.
Elias Howe Fact 2: His first job was as an apprentice for a textile factory in Lowell which he started in 1835.
Elias Howe Fact 3: As a result of the Panic of 1837, with the mills closing, he moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts and began working as a mechanic with carding machinery.
Elias Howe Fact 4: Learning alongside him was his cousin, Nathaniel P Banks.
Elias Howe Fact 5: In the shop of Ari Davis in Cambridge, a master mechanic who specialized in the repair and manufacture of chronometers as well as other precision instruments he apprenticed again in 1838.
Elias Howe Fact 6: It would be while working with Ari Davis that he came upon the idea for the sewing machine.
Elias Howe Fact 7: Although he would not be the first to foster the idea of a machine to sew, he was however the person that made the most significant improvements on an already workable design.
Elias Howe Fact 8: In September of 1846 he would be awarded the first U.S. patent for a sewing machine that used a lockstitch design.
Elias Howe Fact 9: He would be the person to create what we know today as three of the main features of a modern sewing machine, namely a needle with the eye at the point, a shuttle operating beneath the cloth to form the lock stitch and an automatic feed mechanism.
Elias Howe Fact 10: According to his mother’s family history, the idea for the eye of the needle being at the pointed end came by way of a dream. In this dream he was being threatened by a ferocious King, under threat of death, to succeed in inventing a machine that sewed. He was given twenty four hours or he would die.
Elias Howe Fact 11: In the early hours of the morning, as his dream was concluding and he was being marched to his death, he suddenly woke with the idea of placing the eye of the needle at the pointed end.
Elias Howe Fact 12: Between waking at four o'clock in the morning and nine o’clock that morning he had fashioned the needle as he had dreamt it and it worked.
Elias Howe Fact 13: Elias Howe secured his patent but despite having a workable design it was proving more difficult to find willing investors to finance the manufacture of his invention.
Elias Howe Fact 14: Unable to find the finance he needed, his older brother Amasa Bemis Howe decided to travel to England in 1846 to see if he could secure financial backers there.
Elias Howe Fact 15: In 1848 as a result of a minor success Elias Howe and his family travelled to London but for all intents and purposes the trip was not worthwhile and with his wife’s failing health they returned to America. His wife left first and he had just arrived when his wife died in 1859.
Elias Howe Fact 16: Still penniless, he was however, forced to defend his patent when another, Isaac Singer, perfectly replicated his machine even down to the lockstitching mechanism. He would defend his patent over the next six years through the courts and would not only be victorious but would also be able to claim royalties for others as well as Singer for his invention.
Elias Howe Fact 17: Much of his earners however were donated to 17th Connecticut Volunteer Infantry of the Union Army to provide what equipment was needed.
Elias Howe Fact 18: Elias Howe also enlisted as a Private in Company D. He was given light duties due to health concerns and predominately acted in the post of Regimental Postmaster. He was mustered out in July of 1865.
Elias Howe Fact 19: Elias Howe established his business The Howe Machine Co in Bridgeport and would be run by his son's-in-law, later by his brother and following his brother his brother’s son.
Elias Howe Fact 20: Elias Howe continued to suffer poor health. On October 3rd of 1867 he died of gout together with a substantial blood clot. His body was laid to rest in Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York.
Influence and Legacy: Elias Howe’s sewing machine would go on to revolutionize the clothing industry and introduced a home market for his machine making clothes at home much easier. He would become inducted into the United States National Investors Hall of Fame in 2004 and in 1940 would be commemorated with a 5 cent stamp during the Famous American Inventors series.
Important Events of the era and during the life of Elias Howe include: USA buys Florida from Spain for five million dollars, Egypt declares its independence and Jews are given the vote in Britain.
Short Facts about Elias Howe for Kids
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