Famous Historical Bankruptcies
- Abraham Lincoln
Did you know that it takes more money to produce a penny than the penny is actually worth? Abraham Lincoln himself was so behind in debt, selling his assets still didn't pay off half his debts.
Lincoln was an amazing leader during a tumultuous time in the United States history, but as a business owner, he wasn't able to keep his business on the right footing. He bought a general store as a young man, and then continued to buy out other stores inventories on credit even though his store was gaining much of a profit.
He eventually sold his share of the stores, but when his former business partner died, the back taxes came back to Lincoln. He had to sell his surveying gear and his horse (his last two assets) and continued to pay off debts until the mid-1840's.
Other Presidents that filed for bankruptcy; Ulysses S. Grant (bad investment-banking venture), Thomas Jefferson (numerous times for lavish lifestyle), and William McKinley ($130,000 in debt while Ohio's governor).
- Henry Ford
Seeing that the auto industry is in peril now, maybe this article will be republished in a few months, but as now the auto industry is probably reminiscing about the early 1900's. Henry Ford started the Detroit Automobile Company in 1899 with the help of three politicians. Over the next two years the engineer only made 20 cars (blamed on his perfectionism), which led to bankruptcy in 1901.
Ford reorganized into the Henry Ford Company, left that group, and reorganized again in 1903 as the Ford Motor company. Ford had his fair share of opportunities (and bankruptcies), and left a very rich man- and the company went on to be called the Cadillac Automobile Company.
Another auto moguls that went bankrupt was William Crapo Durant, the General Motors founder. He went bankrupt during the depression and afterwards ran a bowling alley in Flint, Michigan.
- 3. Walt Disney
Imagine life without Mickey Mouse. It just doesn't seem right, does it? In 1922 Walt Disney and a partner started a film company in Kansas City, Kansas. After buying a used camera, Disney shot and produced short advertising films and cartoons; he even signed on with a New York company to distribute his films for the newly created Laugh-O-Gram studios.
The deal didn't work out as planned as the New York offices took advantage of the young entrepreneur, and Disney had no choice but to go bankrupt in 1923. As it's said, if one door closes, another opens. Disney moved to Hollywood and after a few years he found his meal ticket: M-I-C-K-E-Y.
- Milton Hershey
If chocolate is heaven on earth, Milton Hershey is God- just not all-knowing, powerful one. Hershey knows how to make candy; he just wasn't the best at running businesses. Instead of schooling, he learned the old-fashioned way by apprenticing at a candy shop for four years. After his adventures there, Hershey started his own business in Philadelphia in 1876.
Six years later his business went bankrupt. He also failed at selling sweets on the streets of New York City. Hershey then returned to his hometown of Lancaster, Pennsylvania and started the Lancaster Caramel company. The company later sold for $1 million, which is when he started his concentrations on the smooth, rich milk chocolate we know today.
- H.J. Heinz
Last year the H.J. Heinz Company, started by Heinz, his brother and his cousin, made over $10 billion in revenue. All because of the red condiment we call ketchup.
His business wasn't always that rosy color. Heinz started a company, with two others, to make horseradish. Even though it's one of the famous 57 varieties, it didn't agree with everyone's pallet, and eventually hit Heinz's wallet. In 1827 the business went bankrupt, and Heinz reorganized with his family in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Somewhere between fries and scrambled eggs, ketchup was created and the rest is history.
Other mentionable bankruptcies; Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (composer), Oscar Wilde (playwright), Charles M. Schwab (steel), and Mark Twain (author).