American Originals

American Originals
American Originals will trace the stories of those who charted their own paths, overcame barriers and achieved a better life for themselves and those around them by embracing personal responsibility, hard work and an entrepreneurial spirit.

The American Dream has been caricatured as wealth accumulation and material success like owning a house or buying a car. This has done a great disservice to the American ethos and American culture. The essence of the dream is earned success, achievement, recognizing opportunity and includes an appreciation for the role of entrepreneurship and the contributions that entrepreneurs have made to society.

By highlighting these success stories, we hope to demonstrate the value that these leaders have created and inspire others to follow in their footsteps. The American Dream and being an American Original is all about ordinary people achieving extraordinary things. As Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Orel Leonard Hershiser once said: “Great things can happen to ordinary people who are willing to work hard and never give up.”

On February 11, 1898, John Charles Smith of Toronto hit his head and died of a cerebral hemorrhage. The Irishman left behind his wife, Charlotte; five-year-old daughter, Gladys; another daughter, Lottie; and a son Jack. Destitute, Charlotte struggled to keep her family...
Few industries have had a greater impact on the world than our airline system. This global network was built over a period of forty years by a handful of leaders who pioneered on dangerous and shaky grounds. Pre-eminent among them was Cyrus...
Outside of the field of product and transportation design, too few people know who Raymond Loewy was. The best-known industrial designer, founder of the industrial design profession, and member of the pantheon of our greatest designers, it is time for wider recognition of...
Born in upstate New York in 1801, Gail Borden was raised there and in Kentucky and Indiana. As a young man, he moved to Mississippi and then Texas in search of the land of greatest opportunity. He arrived in...
First building roads in Washington State, he soon helped build the western infrastructure, including Hoover Dam and Grand Coulee Dam. He played a key role in America’s victory in World War II by building hundreds of warships at an unprecedented pace. He also created aluminum and steel industries on the West Coast, doing more to bring manufacturing to California than anyone else.
Jim Hill left poverty in rural Ontario after his father died when the son was only fourteen years old. He landed in St. Paul, Minnesota, where over the next fifty years he did more to shape the northwestern United States than any other single person. This is his story.

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