William took his 1st breath on January 25th, 1783 in England. His father, Robert, was a farmer who supported the American Revolution. One night a friend warned Robert to take his family and flee England. His support for the American Revolution was about to get him imprisoned…or even worse. In March of 1798, they landed on a farm in Maryland. With another man, Robert started manufacturing soap and candles. William helped them. Their venture failed and Robert returned to farming. But young William had been bit by the business bug, so he struck out on his own. Within a year, William’s business failed too. A Canal boat captain friend, who happened to be a Christian, advised William to “Give your heart to Christ. Give God all that belongs to Him…” and he will direct your path. William became a believer and was intrigued by the words of Jacob in Genesis 28:20-22…”If God will be with me, and will watch over me on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear…then the Lord will be my God…and of all that you give me, I will give you a tenth.”
In 1804, he moved to New York and worked for another soap maker because Proverbs 24:30-32 said to heed instruction and work hard. Proverbs 1:5 says to “let the wise listen and add to their learning and let the discerning get guidance.” William wanted to learn all he could about soap making. But this company was mis-managed and went bankrupt in 1806. Instead of giving into despair, he used his ambition, reputation and connections to take the company out of bankruptcy. This time, because he had heeded instruction and trusted God, his 3rd business attempt flourished.
Within 6 years, the company had diversified. Soon they were producing starch, hand soap, toilet and shaving products. In 1811, William married Mary Gilbert. Together they had eleven children. While he was busy building his business, he didn’t neglect his spiritual life. They attended church and read the bible together. He even became a baptist layman. He was very active in Christian civic groups. He also gave 10% of his company’s profits to Christian endeavors. But he didn’t stop there. He gave 20% and then finally 30% of his company’s profits to Christian endeavors. He was a great supporter of missionaries. He helped organize the American and Foreign Bible Society. He served on the board of the American Tract Society. In 1838, he founded the Tabernacle Congregation Church. He became known around town as Deacon William.
The soap king finally met the King of Kings on March 25th, 1857. His son succeeded him in the business. By the way, William’s last name was….Colgate. That’s right…he was the founder of the Colgate Corporation, which later became the Colgate-Palmolive Corporation,one of America’s oldest and most successful Fortune 500 companies. Now its a publicly owned company. The success of his company is a testimony to what God can do with a young man committed to following God wherever He may lead you.
For His Kingdom,