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Georgia Journal of Science

Article Title

A Strong Finish

Abstract

Imagine entering a long race after everyone has a head-start and managing to finish first.

Charles Richard Patterson did just that. While the race of the Industrial Revolution was underway, C.R. Patterson was enslaved. After escaping enslavement in 1861, Patterson managed to create and father many “firsts”: automotive and manufacturing innovation (some still unmet today) and social entrepreneurship. The magnitude of C.R. Patterson’s “firsts” has unfortunately been unheard, nearly forgotten. After twenty years of a successful partnership in the carriage business, Patterson earned enough money to buy his partner’s shares to create C.R. Patterson & Sons Company. This business was the first national and international African American owned and operated automobile company. Together, C.R. Patterson and his son, Frederick Douglass Patterson, contributed significantly to the timeline of automobiles. Often in automobile pioneering, Henry Ford is the first to be named. However, C.R. Patterson & Sons Company deserves to be said in the same breath. The local communities recognized C.R. Patterson & Sons Company as quality craftsmen with a quality product. Due to circumstances, like the enslavement of Black people and economic and racial discrimination, C.R. Patterson & Sons were not recognized and manufactured at that same scale as Henry Ford. However, it is worthy of acknowledging the Pattersons did more with less time. “If it’s a Patterson, it’s a good one” (C.R. Patterson & Sons Company slogan).

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