Famous contributors to the development of Rubber Charles Goodyear and Joseph Priestley’s biographies
Joseph Priestley (1733-1804) Joseph Priestley is a British theologian, chemist, natural philosopher, educator, Dissenting clergyman and political theorist. He was born on March 13, 1733 in Fieldhead, Birstall, West Yorkshire. Mary Swift and Jonas Priestley were his parents and he is the oldest among six children. His family is a Dissenting family which does not conform to the teachings of the Church of England. When he was one year old, he was sent to live with his grandfather. His mother died five years later and his father remarried in 1741. Priestley lived with his wealthy aunt and uncle, Sara and John Keighley. His aunt saw a great potential in him since a the age of four he was able to recite all 107 questions and answers of the Westminster Shorter Catechism. He was given the best education he could have. In local schools he learned Greek, Latin and Hebrew. French, Italian, German, Chaldean, Syrian and Arabic were other languages he obtained. Rev. George Haggerstone was his tutor who introduced him into higher mathematics , logic, natural philosophy and metaphysics. Daventry Academy, a Dissenting academy was where Priestley continued his studies on theology and even skipped two years of coursework for he had already read a lot about it. His first ministry was at Needham Market, Suffolk, in 1755. Priestley was not contented in his life there, he wanted to have more theological debates and the place was so small for his ministry. There he was not anymore a Calvinist and when he asked help from his aunt for his congregation she refused .
At Nantwich, Cheshire where he lived a happy life with hissupporting friends, he became minister. There he thoughtnatural philosophy to his students. In 1761, Priestley wroteand English grammar book entitled, The Rudiments ofEnglish Grammar. This book led him to be called as “one ofthe greatest grammarians of his time”. The WarrigtonAcademy at Lancashire, having known Priestley’sachievement, offered him a teaching position on modernlanguages and rhetoric. Mary Wilkinson of Wrexham was Priestley’s wife. They got married on June 23, 1972. Priestley described Mary as a woman of excellent understanding, improved reading , great fortitude and strength of mind and very affectionate and loving. Priestley’s first child was a girl whom he named Sarah after the name of his aunt.
He wrote the “ Essay on a Course of Liberal Education for Civil and Active Life” on1765 and the “ Lectures on the History and General Policy” on 1788. These writingstalked about developments in education and history and were popular for decades.Priestley was appalled by the Warrington trustees and decided to grant him a Doctorof Law in 1764.He became famous when he wrote in 1767 “The History andPresent State of Electricity”. This became was made possiblewhen he was encouraged by Benjamin Franklin whom he met inLondon in 1766 to conduct and new experiments in electricity.He discovered the conductivity of charcoal and other substances.Priestley’s book became the basis of several scientists whocontributed mainly on electricity, among which are; Charles-Augustin de Coloumb, Michael Faraday, James Clark Maxwell,William Herschel, Alessandro Volta and Henry Cavendish.A popular version of the book was published with title History of Electricity and for thegeneral public, A Familiar Introduction to the Study of Electricity in 1768. The Historyof Electricity led Canton, Franklin, Watson and Richard Price to nominate Priestley inthe Royal Society and he was accepted in 1766.
Because of his wife’s sickness they moved to Leeds in 1767 where he became Mill Hill’schapel minister. Joseph junior and William Priestley was then born. Being Mill Hill’schapel minister Priestley wrote more on religion, his dissenting Unitarian beliefs andmaterialism and necessitarianism.He also indulged himself into many religious and political arguments on pamphlets. Hiswritings were mostly for the rights of the Dissenters. However, Priestley also becameinterested on gases. In 1773, he worked for Lord Shelburne in Calne as a librarian andtutor of his children and a political adviser to him. There in Calne, Priestley’s fourthchild, Henry was born. Priestley’s interest on gases made him conduct more experiments and scientific investigations. He then wrote “Experiments and Observations on Different Kinds of Air” . On his scientific texts, the phlogiston theory was clearly emphasized. He had a number of discoveries on gases. He discovered nitric oxide, an- hydrous hydrochloric acid, ammonia, nitrous oxide among which is the very important, the oxygen, in which Priestley called “dephlogisticated air”. It was in1774 when he discovered the oxygen an its roles in combustion and respiration.
For rubbers, Priestley coined the term rubber when he discovered that the leadmarkings on the paper was erased by this substance which “rubs-out”. Although,rubber was not really a big deal on Priestley’s contribution he was still the one whogave rubber its name.Priestley, spent most of his time defending the phlogiston theory to Antoine Lavoisierand other chemists at that time . He only gained criticisms in his works in England forhis audacious and dissenting beliefs. He emigrated to America where he gained favourfrom the American Government. Americans were inspired by Priestley to work moreon Chemistry. He was devastated for the loss if his dear wife. In America, his familylived in Northumberland, Pennsylvania. Because of illness, Priestley died on the 6th ofFebruary 1804 was buried at Riverview Cemetery at Pennsylvania.Though, wasn’t accepted in Europe in his time , Priestley’s philosophy on unitarianismrose in Europe. As for acknowledgement in his contributions to chemistry, theAmerican Chemical Society named their highest honour to be the Priestley medal.
Charles Goodyear (1800-1860)He is an American inventor and was born in 1800 in New Haven, Connecticut. Hisfather was hardware manufacturer and inventor. He was a sickly young man, whohad no formal education. He worked as a hardware salesman in Philadelphia,Pennsylvania but did not succeed. So in 1821 because of his ill health, he wentback home in Connecticut and made his father a business partner. However, lifewas hard for him and the hardware business failed.It was in 1826 when Goodyear and his wife, Clarissa opened the first Americanhardware store as an outlet of the hardware products of Goodyear’s father.Unfortunately, the father and son went bankrupt in 1830.For a few years, Goodyear was struggling to support his family with only smallinventions while he went in and out of jail due to debts. In 1834, Goodyearbought a rubber life preserver in New York City’s Roxbury India Rubber Companyand invented quickly a new valve for the device. He tried to sell the design of thevalve to the Roxbury Company , but then the manager said that its not the valvethat has problem its the, rubber.
Natural rubber when melted becomes sticky and soft in hot weathers and is hardenedand brittle in cold. This was the problem then by most people, especially rubberconsumers. Charles Goodyear was challenged by this problem and for years he spent histime researching and experimenting on how to find a way to utilize the rubber withoutthe hassles of the sticky and brittle conditions due to weather changes.While in debt prison, he dedicated himself in finding the solution to the problem inrubbers. Using the debtors prison kitchens, without the knowledge in chemistry, withoutmoney, and equipments , still Goodyear was able to treat rubber with nitric oxide in1836.His rubber-goods company was wiped out by the economic Panic in 1837. He decided topurchase from Nathaniel Hayward, his rival inventor the patent rights of the process forimpregnating the rubber with sulphur. T he United States Post Office ordered 150sulphur-treated mailbags which only disintegrated in the heat of summer. Even if hisfriends already refused to support him, Goodyear still he persevered.It was in 1839 when Goodyear had finally discovered the vulcanization process. Thisbreakthrough happened when he accidentally dropped the mixture of rubber andsulphur on the hot stove. The result of the heated rubber-sulfur being subjected to ahigh temperature yielded to a flexible and tough product. The rubber is then said to bevulcanized.
On the other hand, after the successful discovery of vulcanization, still Goodyear spentfive more years in privation and had sold even his children’s books. He was able topatent his discovery in 1844.Goodyear had made a wrong move, he granted licenses of rubber manufacturing atrelatively low prices. He even withdrawn from manufacturing to finding more productsthat can be used or made with rubber. Goodyear’s patent lawyer, Daniel Webstersecured the patent rights and was successfully obtained in 1852. patenting his workabroad can no longer be possible for the Englishman Thomas Hancock already done so.Spending $30,000 for a lavish display at London’s Crystal Palace Exhibition , earnedGoodyear nothing in 1851. Another gaudy display in Paris Exhibition in 1855 was made,though he had only the last of his resources. Goodyear was imprisoned again for debtsbut was awarded the Cross of the Legion of Honor. Ill and frail, in 1958, Goodyearwent back to America but he suffers financial and patents problems.While traveling from Washington to New Haven, Connecticut, in 1860 to his dyingdaughters bedside, Goodyear died in New York. While others would profit from therubber manufacturing that Goodyear made possible, the inventor himself left$200,000 in debts.