Garrett Morgan’s Biography, which cover items including a hair-straightening product, a breathing apparatus, a redesigned sewing machine, and an enhanced traffic signal, paved the way for other African Americans to become inventors.
Garrett Morgan started his profession as a sewing-machine mechanic with only a basic education. He later filed for patents on a number of inventions, including a better sewing machine, a traffic signal, a hair straightening product, and a breathing apparatus that served as the model for World War I gas masks. On July 27, 1963, in Cleveland, Ohio, the inventor passed away.
Garrett Morgan was the seventh of 11 children, arriving on the scene on March 4, 1877, in Paris, Kentucky. His mother, Elizabeth Reed, was of African and Indian ancestry and a Baptist minister’s daughter. His father, Sydney, was the descendant of Confederate colonel John Hunt Morgan and had been emancipated from slavery in 1863. As an adult, Morgan’s mixed-race origins would influence his economic transactions.
Success in business allowed Morgan to establish himself in Cleveland and marry Mary Anne Hassek, a native of Bavaria, during their marriage, he and his wife would have three sons.
G.A. Morgan Hair Refining Company
Morgan’s innovative sewing machine would soon open the door to his financial independence, albeit in an unconventional manner, building on the momentum of his commercial success: In 1909, Morgan came across woolen cloth that had been burnt by a sewing machine needle while using them in his newly established tailoring establishment, which he had founded with his seamstress-experienced wife Mary. Considering how quickly sewing machine needles spun at the time, it was a regular issue. Morgan experimented with a chemical solution in an effort to lessen the friction caused by the needle in an effort to solve the issue, and as a result, he discovered that the cloth’s fibers were straighter.
Morgan’s remedy was successfully tested on the fur of a nearby dog before being applied to himself. As soon as it was successful, he founded the G.A. Morgan Hair Refining Company and started selling the cream to African Americans. The business was wildly prosperous, giving Morgan financial security and enabling him to explore other passions.
Inventions Breathing Device
A breathing apparatus known as a “safety hood” that gave users safer breathing conditions in the midst of smoke, gases, and other contaminants was invented by Morgan in 1914. Morgan put in a lot of effort to promote the product, particularly to fire departments, frequently personally demonstrating its dependability in a fire. The gas masks used in World War I to shield soldiers from lethal gas used in combat were modeled after Morgan’s breathing apparatus. At the Second International Exposition of Safety and Sanitation in New York City, the idea won him first place.
Morgan’s products encountered some pushback from customers, especially in the South, where racial hostility persisted despite improvements in African American rights. Morgan hired a white actor to portray “the inventor” during demonstrations of his breathing device in an effort to overcome opposition to his products. Morgan would then pose as the inventor’s sidekick, disguising himself as a Native American man named “Big Chief Mason,” and, wearing his hood, enter spaces where breathing was otherwise prohibited. The strategy worked since the item sold quickly, especially among firefighters and rescue personnel.
Cleveland began digging a new tunnel beneath Lake Erie in 1916 to supply itself with fresh water. When construction workers struck a pocket of natural gas, there was a massive explosion that buried them underground among choking toxic gases and dust. When Morgan and his brother learned about the explosion, they put on breathing apparatuses, moved as soon as they could to the tunnel, and entered. Before the rescue operation was called off, the brothers were able to rescue four bodies and save two lives.
Despite his valiant attempts, Morgan’s sales suffered as a result of the incident’s publicity; because the world was made aware of Morgan’s race, many people shunned his goods. Another negative outcome of racial discrimination may be that neither the inventor nor his brother received adequate recognition for their valiant efforts at Lake Erie. Despite being nominated for a Carnegie Medal for his work, Morgan was ultimately passed up for the honor. In addition, other people were identified as the rescuers in some stories of the explosion.
Although it was disappointing that the public did not recognize Morgan’s and his brother’s contributions to the Cleveland explosion, Morgan was a voracious inventor and observer who focused on finding solutions and soon turned his attention to a variety of things, from hats to belt fasteners to car parts.
Morgan, who was the first Black man in Cleveland to possess an automobile, created a friction drive clutch by honing his mechanical abilities. Then, in 1923, after seeing a carriage accident at a particularly troublesome crossing in the city, he invented a new form of traffic signal, one with a warning light to let cars know they would need to stop. In the United States, Britain, and Canada, Morgan swiftly obtained patents for his traffic signal, which was a crude variation of the contemporary three-way traffic light. However, he ultimately sold the rights to General Electric for $40,000 instead.
Death and Legacy
In 1943, Morgan started from glaucoma, which caused him to lose the majority of his vision. On July 27, 1963, the successful inventor passed away in Cleveland, Ohio, just before the Emancipation Proclamation’s centennial celebration, which he had been looking forward to. Prior to his passing, Morgan received a commendation from the American government for the creation of a traffic light. Later, he was given his rightful position in history as a hero of the Lake Erie rescue.
With his significant ideas, Morgan enhanced and saved innumerable lives throughout the world, including those of firefighters, soldiers, and vehicle operators. His work served as the model for numerous significant developments that were made subsequently, and it still motivates and forms the basis of the research done by engineers and inventors in the present day.