As a child in the early 1800s, Peter Cooper was hired to pick fur from rabbit skins. Does that sound like an interesting job? His parents were hatmakers. At age seventeen, he was apprenticed as a coach maker and eventually ended up in Baltimore, Maryland. In Baltimore, he founded the Canton Iron Works in order to supply the new Baltimore and Ohio Railroad with steel to build locomotives and railway lines. In 1830, he invented "Tom Thumb," a tiny locomotive that could propel forty people along a thirteen-mile route at ten miles an hour.
Cooper became quite wealthy for someone with only a little education. He established the still famous Cooper's Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in New York. He also supported the laying of the Atlantic Ocean telegraph cable, invented a washing machine, and became president of the North American Telegraph Company.
Ahead of his time, Cooper was a far-sighted thinker and inventor. He even ran for the presidency of the United States when he was eighty-four years old! He died in 1883. One of his most famous sayings is, "I have endeavoured to remember that the object of life is to do good."