Samuel Pomeroy Colt

Inducted: 2008
Born: 1852
Died: 1921

Samuel Pomeroy Colt, a brother of U.S. Senator LeBaron Colt, shared his sibling’s impressive lineage. Born in Paterson, New Jersey in 1852 as the youngest of six children, he received his early education in Hartford, graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1873, and from Columbia Law School in 1876. Samuel (or “Pom” as he was nicknamed) began the practice of law in 1877 with his brother LeBaron and Francis Colwell.

Samuel soon revealed his passion for politics becoming a military aide-de-camp on the staff of Republican Governor Henry Lippitt from 1875 to 1877 with the rank of colonel–a title he proudly used for the duration of his career. He was Bristol’s representative in the General Assembly from 1876 to 1879, an assistant attorney general from 1879 to 1881, and state attorney general from 1882 to 1885. These early political successes were his last. In 1903, he lost a race for governor to incumbent Democrat Lucius Garvin, and in 1905 he lost a bid for U.S. senator in a three-way contest with incumbent Republican George Peabody Wetmore and Democrat Robert Hale Ives Goddard that required eighty-one legislative ballots.

As Samuel’s luck in politics waned, his fortune in business waxed. In 1886, he founded the Industrial Trust Company and served as that bank’s president until 1908 as it became the state’s largest financial institution. In 1887, he was appointed receiver for Governor Augustus O. Bourne’s bankrupt National Rubber Company of Bristol. To the detriment of Bourne, he seized and reorganized the company and reopened it in 1888 as the National India Rubber Company. This firm soon merged with several others to form the United States Rubber Company. This “Rubber Trust”–the largest producer of rubber goods in the world–came under Colt’s leadership in 1901, and he served as its president from that date until 1918 when he became chairman of its board of trustees.

Samuel Colt amassed great wealth in business and shared some of it with his adopted town. He endowed Bristol’s high school (Colt Memorial), granted public access to his large farm on the shore of Narragansett Bay (now Colt State Park), and financed other civic projects during his life and by his will.

Samuel Colt died on August 13, 1921 of complications from a stroke at his family home, Linden Place, at the age of sixty-nine. He was notorious for his flamboyant (some say licentious) lifestyle. He married Elizabeth Bullock of Bristol in 1881 and she bore him three sons, one of whom, Russell Griswold, married actress Ethel Barrymore. Samuel and Elizabeth separated in 1896. Neither remarried, but Samuel never lacked for female companionship. He is buried in the Colt family plot in Juniper Hill Cemetery.

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