Morgan Campbell and Alison Wamsley

Steamboat history

We tell our schoolchildren that Robert Fulton invented the first steamboat. What Fulton did do was locate an efficient new Watt engine in a warehouse. And in 1807 he installed it in a well-designed boat. We had a huge network of inland rivers we badly needed to navigate. Fulton enjoyed immediate commercial success.

He had access to a lot of new technology by 1807, and he put his boat together with an ease that would've been impossible just a few years before. His patent makes no pretense about inventing the steamboat. It acknowledges 30 years of early steamboat development.

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