The Steamboat was a very influential invention in the 19th century. Not only did it revolutionize the economy, but the social life and character of the American people. Although eventually replaced by advancing technology, Steamboats were extremely helpful in propelling America to the forefront of Industry. The lasting imprint left upon America left by the steamboat was monumental.
The Steamboat was a result of the invention of James Watt’s Steam Engine ("The History of Steamboats"). The idea to apply this new invention to a nautical vessel was first brought up by John Fitch in 1787 ("Steamboat"). Although he obtained a patent and built four different prototypes, his attempts were unsuccessful. The idea had been brought to light, but remained unsuccessfully developed until Robert Livingston and Robert Fulton tackled the challenge. It was something incredibly large to undertake but Fulton and Livingston were up for the challenge.
While in France, Robert Livingston met a man by the name of Robert Fulton. Fulton had already had some acclaim in France for developing an operational submarine ("The History of Steamboats"). As a child Robert Fulton was very interested in things like mechanics and engineering (“The History of Steamboat”). They discussed applying the steam engine to a ship. It didn’t go quite well. He received a few patents and developed a few models. In fact, when he placed his first engine inside the ship, it completely sank ("Steamboat"). After a good deal of experimenting, Fulton and Livingston, although Fulton received all the fame, produced the fully operational Clermont, ironically named after Livingston’s home town ("Steamboat"). On August 17, 1807, the Clermont, Robert Fulton's first American steamboat, left New York for Albany, inaugurating the first commercial steamboat service in the world ("The History of Steamboats"). That 135 mile trip would be his claim to fame. Little did he know, his project would greatly change the character of...
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