Dumb luck is sometimes better than skill and talent. As in way, way, better. Take Timothy Dexter, an eccentric eighteenth century American entrepreneur who sank his money into just about every mind-bogglingly dumb venture possible. Rather than lose his shirt, he made out like a bandit time after time. Below are twenty five things about that and other dumb moments from history.
An Ambitious Colonial Blue Collar Worker, and the Snobs Who Tried to Foil Him
For centuries, Newcastle in northeast England had a legal monopoly on the region’s vast coal trade. That helped the town prosper and develop in a major metropolis. As early as the 1500s, the abundance of coal there birthed the idiom “taking coal to Newcastle“. It is used to this day to signify a pointless attempt to do what is useless and is not needed. In the eighteenth century, however, an eccentric – or more accurately, an outright plain nuts – American businessman defied that bit of conventional wisdom and took coal to Newcastle. He made out like a bandit.
Eccentric American entrepreneur Timothy Dexter (1747 – 1806) was born in a working class family of modest means in Colonial Massachusetts. At age sixteen, he became a tanner’s apprentice, and got pretty good at leather working. His life and career revolved around the contrasts between his humble origins, and his desire to join the colony’s elites. Massachusetts’ blue bloods were not receptive to the uncouth and low brow leather worker’s attempts to join their ranks, and went out of their way to try and thwart his ambitions and steer him wrong. As seen below, sheer dumb luck allowed Dexter to foil their schemes to screw him over, and succeed time after time.