|Arrival in America, Torpedo experiments,
Launch and trial trip of the steamboat, Steam ferry boats.|
FULTON left Falmouth at the end of October and H arrived in New York by way of Halifax, N.S., on i December 13, 1806, after an absence of nineteen years from his native country. He found himself eagerly awaited by his friends, prominent among whom were Barlow, who had settled down in a house which he had built for himself at Kalorama on the outskirts of Washington, and Chancellor Livingston, whose country-seat was at Clermont, near Albany, on the shores of the Hudson. Fulton was acclaimed by his countrymen as a prominent citizen, and what honours a republic can bestow were showered upon him. He was elected a Director of the American Academy of Fine Arts, a Fellow of the American Philosophical Society and of the New York Historical Society, and assisted in the foundation of the Literary and Philosophical Society of New York. The period that now ensued was one of greater activity than any that he had previously known. As he was engaged concurrently on several different enterprises it may be as well to depart from strict chronological order and treat each one consecutively, leaving the greatest, i.e. the steamboat enterprise, till the last. Fulton had hardly been in the States a month before he had proposed to the executive government a series of experiments with torpedoes, undeterred by the fact that two foreign powers had already rejected them. A demonstration was held in January at Kalorama, at which 206 James Madison, Secretary of State, and Robert Smith, Secretary to the Navy, were present. Both were favourably impressed and permission to make the experiments was readily granted. Although already fully engaged with the preparation of plans for the machinery and with the superintendence of the building of his steamboat, he found time to arrange for a demonstration of blowing up a vessel by his torpedo in New York Harbour. This took place on July 20, 1807, but established nothing new, being merely a repetition, except that it was less successful, of that in Walmer Roads. Fulton thus describes the experiment: "The brig was anchored, the Torpedoes prepared and put into the water . . .; the tide then drove them under the brig near her keel, but in consequence of the locks turning downwards the powder fell out of the pans and they both missed fire. This discovery of an error in the manner of fixing the locks to a Torpedo has been corrected. On the second attempt the Torpedo missed the brig; the explosion took place about one hundred yards from her and threw up a column of water 10 feet diameter, sixty or seventy feet high. On the third attempt she was blown up.'' On the day following this experiment Fulton addressed a letter to the Governor and Magistrates of the city of New York, of which the following is an extract: " Having now clearly demonstrated the great effect of explosion under water, it is very easy to conceive that by organization and practice the application of the torpedoes will, like every other art, progress in perfection. Little difficulties and errors will occur in the commencement, as has been the case in all new inventions: but where there is little expense, so little risk, and so much to be gained, it is worthy of consideration whether this system should not have a fair trial. Gunpowder within the last three hundred years has totally changed the art of war, and all my reflections have led me to believe that this application of it will in a few years put a stop to maritime wars, give that liberty on the seas which has been long and anxiously desired by every good man, and secure to America that liberty of commerce, tranquillity, and independence which will enable her citizens to apply their mental and corporeal faculties to useful and humane pursuits, to the improvement of our country and the happiness of the whole people." Fulton's operations attracted some little attention on this side of the water and led to means being devised to counteract them. Lord Stanhope, on I6th February 1807, in a patent (No. 3007) including some improvements in shipbuilding provided means for " counteracting or diminishing the danger of that most mischievous invention for destroying ships and vessels known by the name or appellation of Submarine Bombs, Carcasses, or Explosions." This can only have referred to Fulton's torpedoes. Not only so, but Commodore (subsequently Admiral) Sir E. W. C. R. Owen, whose share in the operations against the Boulogne flotilla has already been mentioned, thought it his duty to submit to the Lords of the Admiralty a very detailed report, dated September 6, I807, on the construction, operation, and means of defence against Fulton's torpedoes. The covering letter is interesting and the memorandum itself so lucid that give them in full in an Appendix.' The document gives from an unbiassed source a full description of Fulton's engines, and may therefore be relied upon. Commodore Owen's suggestions for withstanding torpedo attack contain the germ of the present generally adopted system of boom defence. The docket on the letter shows that the information was duly transmitted to Admiral Berkeley in command on the American station. Even had Fulton persuaded the U.S. Naval authorities to adopt his plans he would have found the British ready for him and able to outmanoeuvre him. No wonder that Britain remained Mistress of the Seas while her navy was commanded by such officers as Owen ! Fulton, in ignorance of this, continued his efforts to get his torpedo adopted. He also made public, as he had long before promised, some of the details of his torpedoes in his brochure, Torpedo War and Sgbjnasz;ze Explosions, from which we have already quoted at some length; this was published in January 1810, and bears evidence, as he himself confesses, of having been hastily written, for it was meant more for the purpose of influencing Congress than to redeem a promise. He gives a number of different designs of torpedoes, but only one, i.e. that described by Commodore Owen, was actually successful. This was the method adopted at Brest, Dover, Boulogne, and New York. Congress were so favourably impressed that in March 1810 they made an appropriation, for the purpose of carrying out experiments, of a sum of $5000 to be expended under the direction of the Secretary of the Navy, who at once appointed Commodores Rogers and Chauncey to superintend the operations. In September Fulton exhibited to them his models and plans as described in his brochure, as well as a new apparatus for cutting the cables of vessels at anchor. This was a very crude affair just a curved knife, the haft of which was in the barrel of a gun. The whole was to be floated by a buoy against the cable to be cut till the knife caught it, when it was to be discharged by a gun lock ! ! A model, incomplete, however, is in possession of the grandson of the inventor. By the following month these officers were ready for the trials in the Navy Yard at Brooklyn. Commodore Rogers must have been a sly old sea-dog, for he had unknown to Fulton prepared the Argus sloop of war, Captain Lawrence, to resist attack by chains lashed to the cable and booms supporting netting extending down to the sea bottom. This is the first instance of the actual employment of this now widely adopted means of defence. Fulton was completely nonplussed and acknowledged defeat, although confident he would find means to overcome the obstacle. He had to content himself with trying his harpoon torpedo and cable cutter, neither of which answered his expectations, although he did actually succeed later in cutting a cable. The report, together with a letter from Fulton, was forwarded to the Treasury. In the latter he observes, pertinently, that "an invention which will oblige every hostile vessel that enters our parts to guard herself by such means (i.e. torpedo netting) cannot but be of great importance in a system of defence," and also that he had now discovered a means to render " all such kinds of operations (he. protective means) totally useless." Fulton, however, does not appear to have carried the matter further, and this is the last we hear of his torpedoes. Strictly speaking, they were floating mines and not torpedoes at all; we can therefore hardly call them the predecessors of the destructive weapon of to-day, but there was in them the germ of the idea that of launching against an enemy's ship a missile which would explode on reaching it and inflict injury and we must confess that Fulton worked out his idea for all it was worth. It was reserved for a later period, when the advance of mechanical science had made it possible to accommodate its motive power within the body of the projectile itself, to develop the germ into something formidable. A matter which occupied some small amount of Fulton's attention was the long-deferred publication in the spring of 1807 of his friend Barlow's poem, the Columbiad to which we have already referred. There is good reason to doubt whether, but for the good offices of Fulton, this epic would ever have emerged from the MS. state; but having decided to do it, he did it well. It was an edition de luxe in quarto form, embellished r with a portrait of Barlow by Fulton and ten plates. The drawings for the latter had been made by Robert Smirke, and Fulton had had them engraved and printed in London. He also bore the cost of the typographical part, amounting in all to $5000, and the work thus became his private property. Long after the work had been issued to the public, he wrote on July 1, 1810, to Barlow drawing his attention to a belated review of the book "Have you seen the Edinburgh Review of the Colombiad Their first principle is that polished literature is not to be expected from America more than from Manchester or Birmingham. The second position is that the day for epic poetry is gone by; man cannot now take pleasure in poetic fiction; the mere didactic is too dry. . . . However they call you a giant compared to modern British bards, though not equal, they think, to Milton." Another subject on which Fulton's services were in request was to advise on the question of canals as a means of transport, a question that was then uppermost in men's minds. Had it not been for the coming of the steamboat, and, shortly after, of the locomotive engine, it is very likely that a United States canal system not inferior to that established in Great Britain would have been the outcome of the inquiries which were now being set on foot. Fulton, however, was obliged to decline any offers in this direction: Replying on March 20, 1807, to a letter from General Dearborn, Secretary of War, he says: "I am infinitely obliged by the proposal of the President (i.e. Thomas Jefferson) that I should examine the ground and report on a canal to unite the waters of the Mississippi and Lake Pontchartrain, and am sorry I cannot undertake a work so interesting and honourable. The reason is I now have Ship Builders, Blacksmiths, and Carpenters occupied at New York in building and executing the machinery of my Steam Boat, and I must return to that City in ten days to direct the work till finished, which will probably require 4 months. The enterprise is of much importance to me individually and I hope will be of great use in facilitating the navigation of some of our long rivers. Like every enthusiast, I have no doubt of success. I therefore work with ardor, and when adjusting the parts of the machine I cannot leave the men for a day. I am also preparing the engines for an experiment of blowing up a vessel in the harbour of New York this Spring. The machines for this purpose are in great forwardness and I hope to convince the rational part of the inhabitants of our cities that vessels of war shall never enter our harbours or approach our Coasts but by our consent." An inquiry was conducted by Mr. A. Gallatin, on behalf of the U.S. Treasury, upon the subject of canals, and his report embodies an extremely lucid statement by Fulton, dated December 8, I807, of the advantages to be derived from small canals. He refers to his Treatzse on Canal Gastgation and gives estimates to show that carriage on water by horse haulage would cost less than one-tenth of that on the best roads then available. While on the subject of internal communication we ought to mention that early in 1811 Fulton WAS seriously entertaining the idea of steam locomotion on rails as a rival to canals. He had an idea of building a railway at Richmond, Virginia, for transporting coal. Chancellor Livingston, replying on March I, 1811, to a letter of Fulton's of February 25 previous, says "I had before read of your very ingenious propositions as to railway communication. I fear, however, on mature reflection, that they will be liable to serious objections, and ultimately more expensive than a canal." Evidently Fulton had suggested the use of wood for rails, a material which the Chancellor said "would not last a week." He also said that " the carriage of condensing water would be very troublesome," showing that Fulton had not proposed to use the high-pressure engine, so that evidently he had merely touched the fringe of the subject. Still it is noteworthy, because the steam locomotive had not yet come into commercial use in England much less anywhere else. We must now turn to the crowning achievement of Fulton's life that of the successful solution, on a commercial scale, of the problem of transport on water by the power of steam. After many years of study, experiment, and observation, the time for action had arrived, and he now proceeded to reduce his ideas to practice in the construction of a practical steamboat. As we have endeavoured to show, Fulton's qualifications for the task were of a high order. He had studied closely the failures and successes of previous inventors, and analysed them as far as he could to find to what their failure or partial success had been due; he had, moreover, studied during the time he was staying in France, we can hardly doubt, the theoretical works on the subject of ship resistance written by Bossut and others; he had, above all, availed himself of the results of Colonel Mark Beaufoy's Nautical Experiments on the resistance to propulsion through water of variously shaped solids, carried out in Greenland Dock, Rotherhithe, in 1793-8, under the direction of the Society for the Improvement of Naval Architecture. In short Fulton had done what every engineer would do in like circumstances he had availed himself of all practical information that he could find bearing on the subject he was dealing with and had applied also to it the results of theoretical investigations. He was the first to treat the elementary factors in steamship design: dimensions, form, horse-power, and speed in a scientific spirit; to him belongs the credit of having coupled the boat and the engine as a working unit. We have already referred to the experiments of early inventors and to Fulton's knowledge of them, and it only remains to give the deductions that Beaufoy had made from his experiments. He showed that the important factors in the total resistance of a solid were: 1. Skin friction, proportional to the wetted area and to the square of the velocity. 2. Bow and stern resistance, proportional to the square of the sine of the angle of obliquity of the bow and stern. The first is substantially the result accepted to-day, as verified by Froude, while the second is a partial recognition of the resistances due to wave making and eddy making as we know them partial because the stream line theory connoting the importance of length of entrance and of run aft was not yet enunciated. As Beaufoy's experiments were made with solids of prismatic shape, towed under still water by means of a pendulum apparatus, they were for that reason not directly applicable to shipshaped solids floating on the surface; although he brought them under the notice of naval architects, it was without much success. Fulton, however, saw their value, and to him belongs the credit of being the first to apply them practically; indeed it is hardly too much to say that he was the first to apply theoretical investigations to practical ship design, so entirely was the latter at that time a question of " rule of thumb." Fulton, in applying Beaufoy's results to his own case, adopted a midship section as nearly as possible rectangular with bow and stern wedge-shaped subtending an angle of 60 degrees. He calculated a table of resistances for each speed from 1 to 6 miles an hour for (a) the skin friction, and (b) the bow and stern resistance. To the bow resistance he added what was called the " plus pressure," i.e " the additional pressure against the bow while the boat moves forwards"; from the stern resistance he deducted the " minus pressure occasioned by the fluid not pressing so strongly against the stern when the boat moves forward as when at rest." From this table the total resistance of a boat of any dimensions could quickly be calculated. He then added " a like power for the propellers," and this he considered to be the total power felt at the paddle-wheels. Piston speed being practically constant, the gearing necessary between the engine and propeller could be calculated and this would give the power that it would be necessary to develop in the cylinder, whence a convenient diameter and stroke could be deduced. The weight of engine and boiler could then be calculated, and subtracting it from the displacement the tonnage the boat could carry would be known. All this is explained at very great length in Fulton's own words in the specification which he enrolled in the United States Patent Office in I809, and which is reproduced in an Appendix. Even the calculations for the actual boat herself are given. The shape of this boat was a decided departure from established practice, for she was rectangular in crosssection for the greater part of her length; no wonder therefore that her coefficient of fineness was nearly og. Unfortunately no drawings of the boat have been preserved, although we may be certain that such were made, even if only an outline, for this was always Fulton's practice. A satisfactory reproduction and model have been made, however, from what little details were in existence. The construction of the boat was entrusted to Charles Browne, a well-known shipbuilder, whose yard was at Corlear's Hook on the East River. She was pushed forward rapidly during the spring of 1807, as is shown by a letter to the Chancellor, dated March I6, in which Fulton says " The boat is now building." When launched she was not christened, apparently, but was known simply as "the steam boat." It was distinctive enough, too, for she was the only one in the world. After launching she was taken over to Paulus Hook Ferry (not Paulus Hook itself, now known as Jersey City), where Fulton had secured some land for a workshop and was building the framing and gearing for the Boulton tic Watt engine. After arrival it had remained for some time in the New York Custom House, as it was not immediately wanted, but it was eventually cleared and taken to a Mr. Barker's warehouse, whence it was removed on April 23 to the boat. The difficulties that were encountered in the construction of the gearing and paddle-wheels at a time when smiths and carpenters were the only mechanics available were overcome, so that on the 4th of July Fulton was able to tell the Chancellor that " I have all my wheels up; they move admirably." But this was not the only hitch: the cost had already exceeded Fulton's estimate, and it was necessary to seek for assistance. John Stevens, as a politic stroke for he also had a steamboat project on hand, was invited to join the enterprise, but he declined. Many racy stories are told of the expedients that Fulton resorted to get money out of his incredulous friends, a number of whom did advance small amounts on bills. At length all was ready; the preliminary trials took place on Sunday, August 9, just four years to a day since the trial trip on the Seine. Fulton wrote an account of it, dated August 10, 1807, to the Chancellor, and from it the following extract is taken : "Yesterday about 12 o'clock I put the steamboat in motion first with a paddle 8 inches broad 3 feet long with which I ran about one mile up the East River against a tide of about one mile an hour, it being nearly high water. I then anchored and put on another paddle 8 inches wide 3 feet long, started again and then, according to my best observations, I went 3 miles an hour, that is two against a tide of one: another board of 8 inches was wanting, which had not been prepared; I therefore turned the boat and ran down with the tide . . . and turned her round neatly into the berth from which I parted. She answers the helm equal to anything that ever was built, and I turned her twice in three times her own length. Much has been proved by this experiment. First, that she will when in complete order run up to my full calculations; Second that my axles, I believe, will be sufficiently strong to run the engine to her full power; Third, that she steers well and can be turned with ease." Fulton also mentions that " corrections, with the finishing of the cabins will take me the whole week, and I shall start on Monday next at 4 miles an hour." The steamboat was not yet in a finished condition. The necessity for providing guards to protect the paddlewheels from injury had not been realised, nor were they boxed in. The engine also was exposed to view. She was described, not without some point, as "an ungainly craft looking precisely like a backwoods' sawmill mounted on a scow and set on fire." However, incomplete as she was, the trial trip took place on the day Fulton had appointed Monday, August 17, 1807 a day to be kept in remembrance. At one o'clock the boat left her moorings at a dock on the North River near the State's Prison; on board were about forty guests, almost wholly relatives or intimate friends. So quietly had everything been done that only one paper, the American Citizen, announced the coming event; nevertheless a large number of spectators were present. The excitement was intense, the incredulity, scorn, and ridicule that had met him at every turn while Fulton's Folly," for so the boat was nicknamed, was being built, gave way perforce to silence first and then to shouts of applause and congratulation. We cannot do better than give an account of the voyage in Fulton's own words in a letter to Joel Barlow. "My steamboat voyage to Albany and back has turned out rather more favourably than I had calculated. The distance from New York to Albany is one hundred and fifty miles. I ran it up in thirty-two hours and down in thirty. I had a light breeze against me the whole way both going and coming and the voyage has been performed wholly by the power of the steam-engine. I overtook many sloops and schooners beating to windward and parted with them as if they had been at anchor. "The power of propelling boats by steam is now fully proved. The morning I left New York, there were not perhaps thirty persons in the city who believed that the boat would ever move one mile an hour, or be of the least utility, and while we were putting off from the wharf, which was crowded with spectators, I heard a number of sarcastic remarks. This is the way in which ignorant men compliment what they call philosophers and projectors. "Having employed much time, money, and zeal in accomplishing this work, it gives me, as it will you, great pleasure to see it fully answer my expectations. It will give a cheap and quick conveyance to the merchants on the Mississippi, Missouri, and other great rivers which are now laying open their treasures to the enterprise of our countrymen; and although the prospect of personal emolument has been some inducement to me, yet I feel infinitely more pleasure in reflecting on the immense advantages that my country will draw from the invention. . . ." The references to the Mississippi, Missouri, and " other great rivers which are now laying open their treasures " is of course to the recent purchase of Louisiana from France, and shows that Fulton had already directed his attention to this very wide field for enterprise; he embarked upon it shortly afterwards. To correct erroneous impressions, Fulton, on his return to New York on Friday, August 21, wrote the follow ing letter to the editor of the American Citizen, giving what might be called a log of the voyage. "I arrived this afternoon at 4 o'clock in the steamboat from Albany. As the success of my experiment gives me great hopes that such boats may be rendered of much importance to my country, to prevent erroneous opinions and to give some satisfaction to the friends of useful improvements, you will have the goodness to publish the following statement of facts: "I left New York on Monday at 1 o'clock and arrived at Clermont, the seat of Chancellor Livingston, at 1 o'clock on Tuesday; time 24 hours; distance II0 miles. On Wednesday I departed from the Chancellor's at 9 in the morning and arrived at Albany at 5 in the afternoon; distance 40 miles; time 8 hours; the sum of this is 150 miles in 32 hours equal near 5 miles an hour. "On Thursday, at 9 o'clock in the morning, I left Albany and arrived at the Chancellor's at 6 in the evening; I started from thence at 7 and arrived at New York at 4 in the afternoon; time 3o hours, space run through, I50 miles equal to 5 miles an hour. Throughout my whole way, both going and returning, the wind was ahead; no advantage could be derived from my sail. The whole has therefore been performed by the power of the steam engine." Another contemporary account which appeared in the English press is even more interesting than the foregoing: "I have now the pleasure to state to you the particulars of a late excursion to Albany in the steam-boat, made and completed under the directions of the Hon. Robert R. Livingston and Mr. Fulton, together with my remarks thereon. On the morning of the 19th of August, Edward P. Livingston, Esq., and myself were honoured with an invitation from the chancellor and Mr. Fulton to proceed with them to Albany, in trying the first experiment up the river Hudson, in the steam-boat. She was then lying off Claremont (the seat of the chancellor), where she had arrived in twenty-four hours from New York, being 11O miles. Precisely at thirteen minutes past nine o'clock A.M. the engine was put in motion, when we made a head against the ebbtide and head-wind, blowing a pleasant breeze. We continued our course for about eight miles, when we took the flood, the wind still a-head. We arrived at Albany about five o'clock P.M. being a distance from Claremont of forty-five miles (as agreed upon by those best acquainted with the river), which was performed in eight hours, without any accident or interruption whatever. This decidedly gave the boat upwards of five miles an hour, the tide sometimes against us, neither the sails nor any other implement but the steam used. The next morning we left Albany with several passengers on the return to New York, the tide in favour, but a head-wind. We left Albany at twenty-five minutes past nine A.M. and arrived at Claremont in nine hours precisely, which gave us five miles an hour. The current, on returning, was stronger than when going up. After landing us at Claremont, Mr. Fulton proceeded with the passengers to New York. The excursion to Albany was very pleasant, and represented a most interesting spectacle. As we passed the farms on the borders of the river, every eye was intent, and from village to village, the heights and conspicuous places were occupied by the sentinels of curiosity, not viewing a thing they could possibly anticipate any idea of, but conjecturing about the possibility of the motion. As we passed and repassed the towns of Athens and Hudson, we were politely saluted by the inhabitants and several vessels, and at Albany we were visited by his excellency, the governor, and many citizens. Boats must be very cautious how they attempt to board her when under way, as several accidents had nearly happened when boarding her: to board a-head will endanger a boat being crushed by the wheels, and no boat can board astern.... The boat is 146 feet in length and 12 in width (merely an experimental thing); draws to the depth of her wheels two feet of water; 100 feet deck for exercise, free of rigging or any encumbrances. She is unquestionably the most pleasant boat I ever went in. In her the mind is free from suspense. Perpetual motion authorises you to calculate on a certain time to land; her works move with all the facility of a clock; and the noise when on board is not greater than that of a vessel sailing with a good breeze." After her return from her first voyage the steamboat was laid up for more than a fortnight in order to complete her equipment and to carry out the improvements that had suggested themselves. These are detailed in a letter which Fulton wrote to the Chancellor from New York on August 29: from this we make the following extract: " I have been making every effort to get off on Monday morning, but there has been much work to do boarding all the sides, decking over the boiler and works, finishing each cabin with twelve berths to make them comfortable, and strengthening many parts of the ironwork. So much to do and the rain which delays the caulkers will, I fear, not let me off till Wednesday morning. Then, however, the boat will be as complete as she can be made all strong and in good order and the men well-organized and I hope nothing to do but to run her for six weeks or two months.... I will have her registered2 and everything done which I can recollect. Everything looks well and I have no doubt will be very productive." In the postscript he says: "I think it would be well to write to your brother Edward to get information on the velocity of the Mississippi, the size and form of the boats used, the number of hands and quantity of tons in each boat, the number of miles they make against the current in the hour, and the quantity of tons which go up the river in a year." The steamboat was not ready, however, to start till Friday, Sept. 4, as shown by advertisements in the Albany Gazette of Sept. 2 the first notice to the public of the inauguration of the new method of transport. This, which ran as follows, continued to appear for three weeks: THE NORTH RIVER STEAM BOAT Will leave Pauler's Hook Ferry on Friday the 4th of September at 6 in the morning and Arrive at Albany at 6 in the afternoon. Provisions, good births and accommodations are provided." The announcement proceeds to say that she would then leave Albany twice and New York once in the week following and vice versa in the succeeding week, after which date (i.e. September 16) further arrangements would be made. True to promise the steamboat sailed on Friday morning from New York on her first voyage as a commercial venture. She left at 6.42 A.M. Fulton himself was a passenger as far as Clermont; besides him there were fourteen others, who, before arriving at Albany, drew up and signed a short account of the voyage. It was quite uneventful, the only thing to note being that it was done in better time than on the occasion of the trial trip, the whole distance to Albany having been accomplished in 28 hours 45 minutes. The account concludes: "The subscribers, passengers on board of this boat on her first voyage as a packet, think it but justice to state that the accommodation and conveniences on board exceeded their most sanguine expectations." 1 The boat did not adhere to her programme exactly on account of a mishap. One of the sailing packets, whether by accident, or, as some people thought, by design, came into collision with the steamboat and carried away one of her paddle-wheels. The damage, however, was quickly repaired, and on September 23 the following advertisement as to her future sailings appeared: "THE STEAM BOAT being thoroughly repaired, and precautions taken that injury shall not be done to her wheels in future, it is intended to run her as a PACKET for the remainder of the season. She will take her departure from New York and Albany at 9 o'clock in the morning, and always perform her voyage in from 30 to 36 hours." Then follows the announcement of dates of sailing from September 25 till October 9. Day by day the number of passengers who availed themselves of the new and speedy mode of travel increased. On October I the steamboat came from Albany in 28 hours with 60 passengers on board, and next day she left New York with go people on boards showing what a favourite she was becoming. The newspaper which gives this information pertinently remarks: "Would it not be well if she could contract with the PostmasterGeneral to carry the mail from this city to Albany ? " It is instructive, as illustrating how events fraught with the greatest import to the human race are ushered into the world almost without comment, to observe the little impression made upon the public by the new mode of transport judging by the notice taken of it in the press of the day. Although New York then boasted a population of 83,000 souls, and possessed at least twenty newspapers, half of them dailies, besides weekly papers and magazines, yet, excepting the letters written by Fulton and some of the passengers, there is only the barest mention of the steamboat outside the advertisement columns. On October 9 Fulton wrote to Andrew Brink, the captain of the boat, giving him instructions, decidedly of a hustling character, as to the management of the boat and discipline to be observed on board, as follows "SIR, Inclosed is the number of voyages which it is intended the Boat should run this season. You may have them published in the Albany papers. As she is strongly man'd and every one except Jackson under your command, you must insist on each one doing his duty or turn him on shore and put another in his place. Everything must be kept in order, everything in its place, and all parts of the Boat scoured and clean. It is not sufficient to tell men to do a thing, but stand over them and make them do it. One pair of Quick and good eyes is worth six pair of hands in a commander. If the Boat is dirty and out of order the fault shall be yours. Let no man be Idle when there is the least thing to do, and make them move quick. Run no risques of any kind when you meet or overtake vessels beating or crossing your way. Always run under their stern if there be the least doubt that you cannot clear their head by 50 yards or more. Give in the account of Receipts and expenses every week to the Chancellor. Your most obedient, ROBT. FULTON. All went well with the steamboat till November 13, when, just as she was leaving New York, " one of the axletrees broke off short and she was obliged to return." These shafts, it should be remembered, were only of cast iron, so that the accident is not to be wondered at. Repairs were made in the course of the day and she was again on her station by the morrow. By November 19, however, it was reported in the papers that the Hudson from Albany as far down as Coxsackie was frozen across entirely, but this did not interfere with the running of the boat, apparently, for in the Evening Post appeared a letter, dated the Igth November, giving an account of a very rough passage during which the boat had to ride at anchor for seven hours. The passengers on this occasion, however, expressed their approbation of the treatment they had received and their pleasure in being able to report that no accident had happened. A few days later it was decided to lay up the boat for the winter, as is clear from the following most interesting letter of Fulton to Livingston, dated November 20: I have received your letter of the 12th inst. After all accidents and delays our boat has cleared 5 per cent. on the capital expended, and as the people are not discouraged, but continue to go in her at all risques and even increase in numbers, I think with you that one which should be complete would produce us from 8 to 10,000 dollars a year or perhaps more and that another boat which will cost 15,000 dollars will also produce us 10,000 dollars a year; therefore, as this is the only method which I know of gaining 50 or 75 per cent., I am, on my part, determined not to dispose of any portion of my interest on the North River; but I will sell so much of my funds as will pay my part of rendering this boat complete and for establishing another, so that one will depart from Albany and one from New York every other day and carry all the passengers. It is now necessary to consider how to put our first boat in a complete state for 8 or I0 years and when I reflect that the present one is so weak that she must have additional knees and timbers, new side timbers, deck beams and deck, new windows and cabins altered, that she perhaps must be sheathed, her boiler taken out and a new one put in, her axels forged and Iron work strengthened. With all this work the saving of the present hull is of little consequence particularly as many of her Knees Bolts timbers and planks could enter into the construction of a new boat. My present opinion therefore is that we should build a new hull her knees and floor timbers to be of oak her bottom planks of 2 Inch oak her side planks two Inch oak for 3 feet high. She to be I6 feet wide I50 feet long this will make her near twice as stiff as at present and enable us to carry a much greater quantity of sail, the 4 feet additional width will require 1146 Ibs. additional purchase at the engine moving 2 feet a second or I5 double strokes a minute this will be gained by raising the steam 5 lbs. to the inch as 24 Inches the diameter of the cylinder gives 570 round Inches at 3 lb. to the inch= 1710 lb. purchase gained to accomplish this with a good boiler and a commodious boat running our present speed, of a voyage in 30 hours, I think better and more productive to us than to gain one mile on the present boat. The new boat, Cabins and all complete, including our materials will cost perhaps 2000 dols. Boiler 800 dols. Iron work in the best manner and men's 200 dols. wages during the winter --------- 4000 dols. To meet this I find that our copper boiler weighs 3930 Ibs. which at 40 cents all the price paid by Government will produce . . . 1570 dols. Profits of this year . . . 1000 dols. --------- 2570 dols. So that we shall have to provide about 1500 dols. added to 3000 Bills against us in the Bank. With this arrangement we shall have one Boat in complete play, producing about 10,000 dollars a year to enable us to proceed with the second, to come out in the spring of 1809, and then our receipts will be about 20,000 dollars a year. Please to think of this and if you like it to try and contract with the carpenter at Hudson for the hull and let him immediately prepare his timbers, knees, and planks. She should be almost wall-sided: if 16 feet at bottom she need not be more than 18 on deck. Streight sides will be strong; it fits the mill work and prevents motion in the waves.... It is now time to lay her up for the winter. Nothing should be risqued from bad weather the gain will be trifling, the risque great. I cannot be with you before the first week in January. Compliments to all friends. Write me again. Yours truly, R. FULTON. Do not risque the engine in the winds and waves of the season. It appears from this letter that the steamboat had, from start to finish, cost 20000 dollars, of which sum 3000 had been borrowed on bills, possibly the money that we have already mentioned as having been lent by friends. The capital that Fulton had sunk must, therefore, have been 8500 dollars that is to say, it had not exhausted his resources; indeed, that is clear from his remark, "I will sell so much of my funds." As usual Fulton 15 sanguine; the profit on the three months' working had been 1000 dollars. For the following year he was reckoning on eight times as much, although the period during which the boat could run would not be as much as four times as long ! Fulton's proposal about building a new hull of increased beam appears to have been carried out and this will explain the fact that, while in his patent specification 1 he gives the beam as 13 feet, in other places he gives it as 16 or 18 feet. In her rebuilt state the steamboat might be said to be like the Irishman's knife in which everything had been renewed at different times, but it was still the same knife. In fact so great were the changes in the steamboat that under the Act of Congress regulating such matters a new registration at the Custom House became necessary. The enrolment is dated May 14, 1808, and is as follows: "Robert R. Livingston of Clermont, Columbia County, State of New York, having taken and subscribed to the Oath required by the said Act and having sworn that he, together with Robert Fulton of the City of New York, are citizens of the United States and sole owners of the ship or vessel called the North River Steamboat of Clermont, whereof Samuel Wiswall is at present master, and as he hath sworn he is a citizen of the United States and that the said ship or vessel was built in the City of New York in the year 1807 as per enrollment 973 issued at this port on the 3d day of September 1807 now given up, the vessel being enlarged. And Peter A. Schenck, Surveyor of the Port, having certified that the said ship or vessel has one deck and two masts and that her length is 149 ft.; breadth I7 ft. 11 in.; depth 7 ft., and that she measures 182 48/95 tons. That she is a square sterned boat, has square tuck; no quarter galleries and no figure head." Known for short as the North River, she started running in May, and in June, Fulton in a letter to C. W. Peale says: "My steamboat is now in complete operation and works much to my satisfaction, making the voyage from or to New York or Albany, 160 miles, on an average in 35 hours. She has three excellent Cabins or rather rooms, containing 54 births with kitchen, larder, pantry, Bar, and steward's room. Passengers have been encourageing. Last Saturday she started from New York with 7o, which is doing very well for these times when trade has not its usual activity." A period of prosperity for the partners now began and everything promised well. In the following year the forts River made upwards of 50 trips of which complete passenger lists have been preserved. The time during which Livingston and Fulton had to produce proof of their ability to propel a boat by the agency of steam had expired in April 1807, but in the session of 1808 the Legislature of New York passed a law to prolong the exclusive privilege of Livingston and Fulton for 5 years for each additional boat they should establish provided that the whole time should not exceed 30 years; their original privilege was, it will be remembered, for 20 years from 1803 i.e. to terminate in 1823. This therefore was a very valuable concession because the prejudice against the new mode of travel had disappeared and passengers attracted by its speed and punctuality crowded to take passage in the forth River. Naturally this success aroused the cupidity of those harpies who live by preying on other people's labour and inventions. Unwilling to aid Fulton the previous year when he was ready to part with one-third of his exclusive right to lessen the pressure on his finances, they now prepared to wrest from him the profits of his enterprise, with the result that will appear later. Nor was this all, for the flyboat and scow owners were already beginning to feel the effects of competition and began the short-sighted policy of endeavouring to do malicious injury to the boat by collisions and obstructions. So serious did this become that ha 1811 the New York Legislature passed a supplementary Act giving summary remedies against those who should be guilty of these malpractices. But success also spurred on the partners to further efforts, and a second steamboat, the CaY of Neptune, was planned. She was practically a duplicate of the North River, being I75 feet long over all, 24 feet beam, 39 feet over the guards, and having the same draught of water. The whole of the machinery appears to have been designed and executed by Fulton himself. This boat was building during the summer of 1809, but was not ready till that autumn or the spring of the following year in time for the season. It appears to have cost about 25,000 dollars i.e. about 50 per cent. more than he had estimated. With these two boats a service twice a week was run. The necessity having now arisen to give the older boat a more distinctive name than she had had, it was at this juncture that she was calledl the CEermont, undoubtedly after the residence of his associate and friend Livingston. Apparently success completely justified the enterprise, for the partners now planned the construction of a third boat: not only so but they had already extended their sphere of operations to the Mississippi, where, in the autumn of 1810 having received an assurance of obtaining from the state of Louisiana an exclusive privilege which was duly accorded on April 19th 1811 the New Ordeals was being built under the superintendence of Nicholas J. Roosevelt. This boat occasioned a reduction of 25 per cent. as the cost of freight between New Orleans and Natchez. The work that was crowding in upon them must have decided Fulton that he could not do it all himself, and he was therefore led to apply once more to Boulton, Watt & Co. for another engine. The letter is as follows: NEW SORES, September 15, 1810. MESSRS. BOULTON & WATT, GENTLEMEN, In 1804 YOU constructed for me a steam engine with a 24 Inch Cylinder and a four foot stroke, which engine has for four years past been driving a boat I66 feet long, 18 feet wide drawing 2& feet of water at the speed of 5 miles an hour on the Hudson River; that is taking the tide for and against the boat her average velocity is 5 miles an hour; This application of your Invention to drive boats, has been, and will ever continue to to (sic) be of great public Utility in this State, by carrying passengers Between the Cities of New York and Albany distance 160 miles, the profits have also been such as to induce me to form similar establishments on some of our other rivers. I will therefore esteem it a favour if you will have the goodness to make for me another engine as soon as possible, the Cylinder to be 26 inches, the stroke as before 4 feet. SCHEDULE OF MATERIALS WANTED 1st. A Steam Cylinder 26 inches diameter 4 feet stroke, with its top and plate, its bottom gland and brasses complete. 2d. Piston, its cover, bottom plate and spanners. 3d. Piston rod, its cap and cutters. 4. Nozzles complete with Valves and Levers. 5. Working gear Complete with brackets. 6. Perpendicular steam and eduction pipe. 7. Condenser Vessel with blow pipe and blowing Valve. 8. Injection cock and handle not wanted as I shall have to arrange them to a tube passing through the bottom of the boat. 9. Air pump its bucket and top and bottom Valves complete. 10. Air pump bucket rod with cap and brackets. 11. Eduction pipe to Condenser. 12. Two boxes of Cement. This, gentlemen, has been copied from your original estimate and was to be made for 380g delivered at Soho. I afterwards found it necessary to have a brass air pump in consequence of working in salt water, that with altering models, Packing cases, &c., &;c., brought your final bill to 548 pounds. In this engine the Air pump may be Iron, and all the work as usual where fresh water is used; The American Minister will obtain permission of the Government to ship the engine to America. I wish it to be sent to the most convenient port from Birmingham which I presume is Liverpool. I will write to my Correspondent in London to take charge of the shipment and to settle final accounts with you. Inclosed are the first Nos. of bills of exchange of 527g.1 You will have the goodness to let me know by the first packet if they are accepted and if the engine will be ready to ship in February or March next. In this, Gentlemen you will much oblige, your most obedient, ROBERT FULTON. P.S. Should there be any improvement in the manner of constructing engines since I had the pleasure of seeing you, you will have the goodness to make for me that which you conceive most perfect. A coloured sketch giving "the position and distances of a piston " must have been enclosed, for one of the above date has been preserved among the Boulton ; Watt MSS. This letter was despatched in triplicate; in the duplicate written on December 4 he alters the diameter of the cylinder from 26 inches to 28 inches " if not already cast." Speaking of the air pump he also says: "In my letter of September I mentioned that it might be of Iron, but having changed the destination of the engine to a place where it must work in salt water it is necessary the air pump should be Brass and everything about the Buckets and Valves either Brass or copper, as the Iron screws, pins and nuts on your first engine rusted off in 6 months." The working drawing of this engine has been preserved. It is entitled "Mr. R. Fulton, Inch to the foot, 23rd Febr. I8II "; the cylinder is marked " 28 inside " and the stroke is 4 feet. Evidently the parts were taken from the firm's 30 H.P. engine. From a subsequent letter it will be seen that the engine was not quite complete in January 1812: apparently, however, the engine must have been delivered soon after, for James Watt, writings from Heathfield on April I3 of the same year to a correspondent who had inquired about engines for canal boats, explains that he had retired from business for many years, but that " It is a Mr. Fulton who has constructed the steamboats in America; two of the engines have been made by Boulton, Watt & Co., but the machinery has been made entirely in America under his own direction." He further mentions that the cylinders were 24-inch and 28-inch diameter respectively by 4-feet stroke. It is not certain in which of the boats this engine was fitted, the only one whose diameter and stroke agree with it was the Washingtozz, I8I3, which, however, was not built to ply in salt water. The next boat to be built after the Car of Neptune was the Paragon. With her, Fulton was able to inaugurate a service three times a week, as is shown by the following advertisement : HUDSON RIVER STEAMBOATS FOR THE INFORMATION OF THE PUBLIC The Paraagon, Capt. Wiswell, will leave New York every Saturday afternoon at five o'clock. The Car of Neptune, Capt. Roorbach, do do every Tuesday afternoon at five o'clock. The JVorth Rzvcr, Capt. Bartholomew, every Thursday afternoon at five o'clock. The Paragon will leave Albany every Thursday morning at nine o'clock. The Car of Ifeptnne do every Saturday morning at nin o'clock. The North River do every Tuesday morning at nine o'clock. PRICES OF PASSAGE From Aetzv York to Verplanck's Point $2; West Point $2 50; Newburgh $3; Wappinger's Creek 83.25; Poughkeepsie 83 50; Hyde Park $4 ; Esopus 84.25; Catskill $5; Hudson $5; Coxsachie $5 50; Kinderhook $5.75; Albany $7. From Albany to Kinderhook $r 50; Coxsachie $2; Hudson $2; Catskill $2.25; Red Hook $2.75; Esopus $3; Hyde Park 83.25; Poughkeepsie $3.50; Wappinger's Creek 34; Newburgh $4.25; West Point $4 75; Verplanck's Point $5 25; New York $7. All other passengers to pay at the rate of I dollar for every twenty miles. No one can be taken on board and put on shore however short the distance for less than I dollar. Young persons from two to ten years of age to pay half price; Children under two years one fourth price. Servants who use a berth, two thirds price; half price if none." The boats are placed inversely in order of date of construction, being that of general convenience and comfort showing that the Forth River was now a " back number." The list of fares is interesting. The fare between New York and Albany had been 7 dollars from the very first, while fares to and from intermediate places had been reduced from time to time. The number of places of call had increased and yet in spite of that the journey had been gradually accelerated. Meanwhile another application of the steamboat had been engaging Fulton's active brain that of the possibility of improving the communication between New York and Jersey City, where the Hudson is 11 miles across. Up to that moment the cities had been somewhat inefficiently served by Ferry rowboats; their slowness and uncertainty were experienced by Fulton every time he had occasion to go from his home in New York to Jersey City. In 1809 a company was formed with a capital of $50,000. They acquired a lease for nineteen years from the Corporation of New York and from the proprietors of Jersey City of their respective rights, wharves, and boats at New York and Paulus Hook respectively. Fulton was applied to to construct a steam ferry-boat, the details being left entirely in his hands. His plans for this, the first one of its kind, embodied, as might have been expected from Fulton, novel features. With the idea of preventing injury to the propelling machinery and of minimising rolling, he constructed the boat with two ship-shaped hulls with a single paddlewheel in the space between and the engine resting on the connecting beams. The fact that a similar arrangement had been adopted by Patrick Miller in his doubled-hulled boats of 1787 propelled by muscular power, may have been known to Fulton and suggested the idea to him. Each hull was 80 feet long by 10 feet beam and 5 feet deep in the hold the space between the hulls was 10 feet. This gave a wide platform for carriage and passengers, and as the hulls were double-ended putting about was obviated. At each side of the river was moored the usual pontoon rising and falling with the tide. Fixed at its shore end and sliding over the pontoon was the bridge. There were floating timbers on either side of the pontoon to guide in the ferry-boat. To take up the shock of impact there was a fender or buffer in front, connected by chains over a pulley so as to raise buckets of water. These buckets had holes in to let out the water so as to bring the whole to rest gradually. A half-hourly service was instituted, the boat taking 15 to 20 minutes for each trip. " She has had in her at one time 8 four-wheeled carriages 29 horses and 1OO passengers, and could have taken 300 more." So great was the success of this boat that in 1811 she was followed by another and in 1812 by a third over the East Hudson River. When in 1816 a thoroughfare between these two ferries was opened it was nanled most appropriately in his honour Fulton Street. Before leaving the subject of steamboats a few words are desirable as to the progress that was made during the remainder of Fulton's lifetime and under his direction. With this end in view a table of dimensions of steamboats, whence many interesting comparisons emerge, has been compiled from all available sources and is given in an Appendix.2 All the early boats were built, like the Clermont, flatbottomed and wall-sided. The Fulton, for navigating Long Island Sound, was the first made ship-shaped, and, proving successful, all subsequent boats were so built. Fulton yielded in this matter because of the increased strength given to the vessel by regular curves in the moulds rather than from a conviction that the shape diminished resistance. The ratio of length to breadth, which in the Clermont was about 1O: I, was reduced gradually till in the Chancellor Livingston (1816), also a river steamer, the ratio was 4.7: 1. In the case of the Connectzczzt (1816) which like the Fulton was for navigating Long Island Sound, really an arm of the sea, the ratio was 4.I: I. This no doubt resulted from an attempt to counteract the "hogging" and " sagging " which took place in the early boats. Fulton's own evidence as to the Clermont on this point is conclusive, and Marestier in 1824 notes that the deck of the Paragon was sensibly undulating. The position of the paddle-wheels in the CEermont was halfway between stem and stern; afterwards it was further forward, but there was never any consensus of opinion on this point. The growth in tonnage and with it the increase of engine power due to the growth of traffic was inevitable. The design of the engine was still tentative. The unmechanical bell-crank engine of the Clermont was modified by a reduction in the number of working parts. The flywheel was not done away with till about 1815, although as early as 181O Fulton had realised that the paddle wheels themselves gave a fly wheel effect. In the Chancellor Livingston the square crosshead or steeple engine due to Stevens was adopted. No finality was reached in the type of boiler. It was generally of the internally-fired, return tube type, but the details differed in nearly every boat. As the Chancellor Livingston was the last and finest of Fulton's vessels, a detailed description and drawing will be of interest. The paddle wheels were placed at the middle of the length of the boat with the engine forward of them and the boiler forward of that again. The paddle wheels were boxed in to obviate splashing. They were supported and protected by sponson beams, over which extended a deck used for the stowage of fuel and for latrines. Space around the engine was occupied by wood and coal bunkers, the galleys and a bar where refreshments were sold. The boiler and engine were covered by a casing open at the sides to allow free circulation of air. The Chancellor Livingston was the first vessel to employ coal as fuel. The steering wheel was raised above the casing of the engine so that the pilot might have an uninterrupted view forward. The accommodation for passengers was liberal. The after end of the boat was occupied by a large dining saloon, on each side of which were two tiers of berths separated by curtains, and lockers or couches below on which beds were placed when necessary. There was a side light to each of the upper berths. It is interesting, as showing the points from which development started, to note that this arrangement was adopted for the car for overland travel on the advent of the railway, while in England the sub-division of the railway coach by compartments was modelled upon stage coach practice. On the maindeck above the saloon was a ladies' cabin similarly arranged, access to the saloon being by a companion way aft. Forward was a second class cabin with berths in two tiers as before and two similar rows back to back along a partition down the middle line. The crew were accommodated in the forecastle, while the captain's cabin, the purser's cabin, and the baggage room were on the main deck. Nothing was spared to make the boat superior in appointments to anything that had gone before. She cost over 25,000 pounds. In 1823 the capital of the Hudson Steamboat Company invested in their fleet Car of Neptune, Paragon, Firefly, Richmond, and Chancellor Livingston including the value of the privilege was estimated at 132,000 pounds, the gross annual receipts were 30,000 pounds, or 10,OOO pounds less working expenses, equal to a return of about 8 per cent on the capital. It is quite clear that after Fulton's death the policy of the Company was most unprogressive, and that their whole aim was to make as much money as possible while the privilege lasted. It must not be imagined that other inventors had been idle while Fulton had been so busy. On the contrary, had he not appeared at all on the scene there is every probability that steam navigation would have arisen, not quite so quickly perhaps, nor yet possibly so successfully, at the hands of one of the most prolific American inventors we refer to Colonel John C. Stevens of Hoboken. As early as 1803, although not versed in practical engineering, he had constructed a remarkable twin screw steam launch, with a not less remarkable high pressure tubular boiler, which are now safely housed in the Smithsonian Institution at Washington. It was over this boiler that Stevens came to grief he had in fact run up against a problem that, with the mechanical knowledge and materials of construction of those days, was not ripe for solution. Nothing daunted, however, Stevens tried along another line that of Fulton himself low pressure and paddle wheels, and built a vessel called appropriately enough the Phoenix, which was ready for its trials only a month after the Clermont. Colonel Stevens, finding himself debarred by Fulton's monopoly from navigating the Hudson, was compelled, in order to make pecuniary use of the vessel, to transfer its services to another quarter. In July 1809 the Phoenix was taken under her own steam under the command of Robert L. Stevens, son of the Colonel, coastwise to Philadelphia, whence she plied to Trenton on the Delaware River. Thus he was the first to navigate the open sea by steam.
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