Chapter X

United States Patents the Steamboat, Monopoly and Litigation to which it gave rise, Steamboat enterprise in Europe and Asia

     It is now necessary to record a fact of considerable significance. As we
have already seen, Fulton had all along had in view a much wider field
of enterprise than the Hudson River. No doubt it was with a view to securing
to himself a monopoly over the whole of the United States territory that he
now applied for his first patent. Possibly, too, he had some idea that it
might be a "second string to his bow" in case his monopoly of the Hudson
broke down, the gathering of a storm for that purpose being already
apparent, as we shall see later. His application, which is for "
Improvements in Steamboats," is dated January 1, 1809, and the patent was
granted February 11th the same year.
     Fulton's patent is not to be found in the archives of the U.S. Patent
Office. It must have perished with many other records in the disastrous fire
which occurred there in 1831.  
     The author, however, has been fortunate enough to meet with two MS.
copies of the specification one in the Patent Office Library, and the other
in the Boulton and Watt MSS., which is of such interest as to be worthy of
reproduction in full 1 on another page.  
     There are thirteen sheets of tables and drawings attached to it which
appear to be based on actual practice. A definite reference is made to the
Clermont, which is selected as an example, and there can be little doubt
that we have now actual drawings of the engine arrangements of that boat if
not of the Paragon and Car of Neptune as well. 
    One of the sheets of drawings gives a "table of the resistance of bodies
moved through water" "taken from experiments made in England by a Society
for Improving Naval Architecture between the years 1793 and 1798."
Incidentally this refutes one charge of plagiarism directed against Fulton.
The charge need never have been made, for the information was common
property, having been published by the Society in 1798.  
    Practically the whole claim in this patent is for the right
proportioning of the engine to the boat and for the combination of the
parts. Indeed no other valid claim was possible, as none of the parts in
themselves were novel. To elucidate these points, we find a great deal of
the text taken up by calculations showing how to obtain the proportions of a
boat and of the engine suitable for it to go at 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6 miles an
hour with a given load. Fulton finds the total resistance of the boat to be
the sum of 
    i. The immersed cross section of the boat in square feet multiplied by
the " plus and minus pressure " the co-efficient for which he obtains from a
table, based on the aforementioned experiments, for each of the speeds
    ii. The friction of the sum of the areas of the bow and stern together
multiplied by a corresponding coefficient. 
    iii. The friction of the sides and bottom of the boat similarly
    To this total he adds a like power for the paddle-wheels. As these are
always to go at twice the speed of the boat, and as he assumes the piston
speed to be constant, he is able to decide the necessary ratio of gearing
and a convenient diameter for a cylinder to give the power required. 
    Following upon his calculations for a boat to run at 6 miles per hour he
    "As to 6 miles an hour, were it attempted and to succeed, I should
consider it more a work of curiosity than utility, as I do not believe it
possible to build a steamboat with any engine which is now known to run 6
miles an hour in still water, and carry either passengers or cargo to pay
the expenses." 
    He retained the same opinion even as late as 1811, for, writing on
January 9 to Dr. S. Thornton, superintendent of the American Patent Office,
he says:
     "If you succeed to run 6 miles an hour in still water with One hundred
tons of merchandise I will contract to reimburse the cost of the boat and
give you one hundred and fifty thousand dollars for your patent, or if you
can convince me of the success by drawings or demonstrations I will join you
in the expenses and profits."
     Such an attitude of mind in a man like Fulton seems hardly credible,
especially seeing that in 1802 he had anticipated a speed of 16 miles per
hour; with the steady advance that he was making, it was not more than a
year or two later before one of his own boats was doing what he now
considered impossible.
     On October 2, 1810, Fulton applied for another patent t for "
constructing boats or vessels which are to be navigated by the power of the
steam-engine "; it was granted on February 9, 1811. It is supplementary to
the first, and in it he claims, among other things, the coupling boxes,
wheel guards, fender strakes, covering over the paddle wheels, placing the
steering wheel forward, and hogging frames. Many of these details, while no
doubt originating with him, had been public property for some years, so that
the patent could hardly have been worth anything, and had the claims been
successfully maintained it would have done more to retard than advance the
progress of steam navigation. 
     The patent is interesting chiefly for the drawings which illustrate
some advance in engine construction. One of the drawings foreshadows very
clearly the side lever engine which remained for forty years the accepted
type for steam navigation.
     We have already alluded at some length to the monopoly of the waters of
New York State enjoyed by Fulton and Livingston, and it is now necessary to
explain why it was that it conferred such enormous powers and privileges,
and why such a protracted and bitter legal fight was instituted to compass
its overthrow.
     The basis upon which the monopoly rested was that the State of New York
claimed jurisdiction over all the waters of the Bay and of the Hudson River
up to low water mark on the mainland or Jersey shore. As it was for the
navigation of these waters that the State of New York had granted a monopoly
to Livingston and Fulton, and as no steamboat could approach New York and
enjoy trade with the City without traversing this stretch of water, we can
see how it was that these two monopolists were able to keep out all such men
as Colonel John Stevens with his steamer the Phoenix.
     This claim on the part of the State of New York was founded neither on
reason nor on common sense. A river or lake suggests itself naturally as a
boundary between adjacent territories, and, when it is accepted as such,
common law assumes that the boundary is in midchannel or in the deepest
     Now the State of New Jersey had always repudiated the claim of the
State of New York; indeed in 1806 New York had consented to the appointment
of a joint commlssion to try and come to an agreement but without result. It
seems to us that it would have been an obvious course for New Jersey to have
appealed to the United States Supreme Court for a settlement of this
dispute, but possibly the temper of the people was too independent for such
a course. Now that steam navigation had been introduced and the financial
considerations involved were considerable, the question assumed very great
importance. Livingston and Fulton's monopoly is so inextricably bound up
with it that one can hardly be discussed without the other.
    The first attack upon their vested interest appears to have been made in
1810 or at the beginning of 1811, when a company was formed at Albany to run
in opposition to the Fulton line. Their first boat, the Hope,- Captain
Bunker, was launched March 19, 1811, and their second, the Perseverance,
Captain Sherman, somewhat later. Soon after they were placed on the station.
The rivalry between them and the Fulton line cuhninated in a steamboat race
the first in history and the forerunner of a kind of sport much indulged in
subsequently. Both boats left Albany at 9 o'clock on the morning of July 27,
the Hope leading. This position was maintained until the boats were within
two miles of Hudson, when the Clermont by reason of her lighter draught took
advantage of the shallows and tried to pass the Hope, which perforce kept to
the channel. A collision resulted which, while not injuring either boat, put
a stop to the race. Captain Bartholomew of the Clersxont at once challenged
the doughty Bunker to compete for a stake of 2000 dollars aside over any
distance, but the latter declined.
    In order to counteract the designs of the opposition steamboat company
Fulton and Livingston sought the advice of Thomas Addis Emmet, brother of
Robert Emmet the Irish patriot and a famous advocate, who gave a long
opinion, dated January 19, 1811, in which he first recites the essential
substance of the grants and the acts upon which their monopoly was based,
substantially as has been given already. He then sets out the questions to
be answered as being: 

    "1St. What is the effect and validity of the State Laws in conferring
any and what exclusive right on Messrs. Livingston and Fulton.  
    2nd. By what process can they carry into effect their right under the
State Laws to the boat and to the Penalty."

    After discussing the powers that the several States delegated to the
Federal Constitution when the latter was formed, particularly with reference
to useful inventions, he gives it as his opinion that: 
"After the adoption of the Federal Constitution no State Legislature had
any authority to grant an exclusive right of making, constructing, or
employing any machine or invention."

     This opinion of course covered both questions, but assuming the State
law to be valid, he gives it as his further opinion that the forfeiture of
the boat, &c., could be enforced, and also that Livingston and Fulton might:

" take and hold possession of the forfeited property without any preceding
process of law, if they can accomplish that object without a breach of the

     There are marginal notes on the document signifying disagreement with
the opinion expressed which cannot have been otherwise than unpalatable.
There was, however, no need to let the opinion be known, and Fulton and
Livingston evidently decided to rely still on their original Act of
Legislature. That Emmet's opinion was a true one the decisions of the courts
subsequently showed.
     The danger that threatened them only deepened when on January 25, 1811,
the Legislature of New Jersey passed an Act 1 declaring that: 

"the citizens of New Jersey have a full and equal right to navigate and have
and use vessels and boats upon all the waters lying between the States of
New Jersey and New York, in all cases whatever not prohibited by the
constitution, or any law of the United States."

     The Act further provided that any person whose boat might be seized
under the law of New York should have a right to retaliate upon any
steamboat belonging to citizens of that State which might come into New
Jersey waters. The provisions of this Act were much less defensible than
were the claims of New York. It carried matters from bad to worse, and was
in fact a direct encouragement to piracy.
     The New York Legislature quickly responded in April 1811 by a law
authorising Livingston and his associates to seize any steamboat infringing
their monopoly, but providing that such steamboat should be held till the
settlement of the case.  
     The only course now open was to attack the opposition steamboat company
in the law courts. Fulton must have felt shaky about the validity of
Livingston's original Act if submitted to searching attack in the courts,
and he seems to have thought it best to prepare evidence by affidavit or
deposition as to his actual priority in successful steam navigation. For
this purpose he wrote to all his friends to secure their interest. One
letter l to Earl Stanhope is so interesting that we give it in full: 
						NEW YORK, April l0, 1811.

     " MY LORD, In my former letters I gave you an account of the success of
my steam boats, which has been so great that, like every other useful and
profitable invention, attempts are now making to evade my patent rights, and
deprive me of my mental property. I am therefore under the necessity of
collecting all possible evidence of the orginality and priority of my
invention, In which water wheels of right proportions and velocities are of
first importance portage. Your Lordship will recollect that, while was in
Devonshire in 1793, I wrote you a letter on Using perpendicular oars or
wheels to propell steam Vessels, of which the inclosed is an exact Copy; it
was accompanied with other mechanical speculation which you may yet find
among your papers; if so or your Lordship can distinctly recollect it, it
will be of infinate service to me, and my cause, and I shall esteem it a
particular favour if you will certify on the inclosed letter and drawing
before the American consul or a notary public that the inclosed is a true
copy of a letter written to you by me on steamships in 1793: such testimony
will be important on the tryal which will commence in September next, in
this City, and on which I have at least 7000 pounds sterling a year at
stake. No one feels more sensibly than your Lordship the sacred right of
mental property, no one knows better the difficulties which interposed to
rendering steam Boats useful, and my clear right to my specific
combinations; which have rendered them useful, In which the wheel in my
opinion is indispensable. Your Lordship will therefore in so important a
suit not hesitate to give evidence for an old friend and have the goodness
to certify on the inclosed letter the time you received the original from
met after which certificate have the goodness to deliver it to the American
Consul general in London, who will forward it to me. I will also thank your
Lordship to let me know if there be any steam boat In operation In England
or Ireland, if so, when built, by whom and how is she constructed; this
information will be esteemed a favour in a private letter. I have seen the
specification of your Lordship's Stanhope Weatherers with a plan for
defending them against torpedoes, the ship is Very ingeneous, but the
Torpedoes are now so far improved that any plan I have yet seen cannot
defend a ship against a Vigorous attack with them. Our friend Barlow is
going Ambassador to St. Cloud at which place I hope his talents will be of
use to our country, which is rapidly improving and every day gaining
strength although our exterior commerce is much embarrassed. The Edict of
Nantz gave manufactures to England which she never lost but improved and
multiplied to the sapping of the resources of France, the British orders in
Council, the Berlin decrees, the war in Spain and Portugal, which has sent
8000 Mireno Sheep to this country in which they thrive and Improve, has
given to us manufacture in Cotton, in Wood and Iron for which we now have
the raw material in abundance, which manufactures we shall never loose but
improve and multiply and which must tend to diminish or at least to produce
the effect of not increasing in so rapid a degree the resources of England
and France.  
    Have the goodness to remember me kindly to Mrs. Falkner; may
success attend your Lordship's useful pursuits and happiness be your
companion, is the sincere wish of 
				 Your most obedient

     P.S. When I left London in 1806 there was no such thing as a steam boat
anywhere in use in Europe; if any thing of the kind has since been
established in England or Ireland, I will thank your Lordship for the
particulars of her size and Velocity, to what purposes applied; by whom made
and at what time and how propelled ?
     In a letter to Barlow, dated June 28, I8II, he gives further details
with reference to this opposition steamboat company:

     " My time is now occupied in building North River and Steam ferry
boats, and in an interesting lawsuit to crush 22 Pirates who have clubbed
their purses and copied my boats and have actually started my own Inventions
in opposition to me by running one trip to Albany: her machinery however
gave way in the first voyage and she is now repairing, which will detain her
I presume until we obtain an Injunction to stop her. A more infamous and
outrageous attack upon mental property has not disgraced America. Thornton
has been one of the great causes of it. In this interesting suit which
places a great fortune at stake I want you to go or send Lee to Thornton s
office and demand a certified copy of my transfer of one half of my United
States patents to Robert R. Livingston and let the certificate state that
such transfer is legally registered in the patent office."
     The transfer of one half of Fulton's interest in his patents to
Livingston was in accordance with their original agreement.
     Fulton also sends with the letter a deposition as to what his
achievements in steam navigation had been; this he asks Barlow to persuade
Thornton to sign, as if it were his own production. Thornton did not do so,
by the way, but the deposition, giving as it does Fulton's side of the case,
may be taken as correct where it gives credit to another than himself, as he
does in one sentence:
    "John Stevens Esq. of Broadway, in the City of New York, is the first . . .
who has communicated the power from the piston rod to the water wheels by
means of crank wheels and shackle bars which work on each side of the
     This was the return connecting-rod or steeple engine.
     The lawsuit dragged on wearily, as only lawsuits can; and Fulton,
evidently thinking he must get further evidence, wrote to Boulton, Watt &
Co., asking for an affidavit from the great James Watt himself. As Watt had
retired from business twelve years before, it is unlikely that he would want
to be worried with such a matter; the firm may have sent a reply; if so, we
have no record of it.

Fulton's letter is as follows:

					     NEW YORX, January 4th, 1812

     GENTLEMEN, In consequence of the non-intercourse and the impossibility
of getting the original to this country at present I have delayed for a long
time to answer your letter, But you will please to finish the engine in the
usual way with perpendicular Valves, as the wheels must have the power of
turning Backwards and forwards and I will remit you the remainder of the
Cost. In a conversation with Mr. Watt Senior in Paris I think in 1803 or 2 I
believe he gave it to me as his opinion that it was impracticable to make a
useful steamboat or Vessel, I have however succeeded to make a Vessels 176
feet long 23 feet beam drawing 2 feet 6 inches of Water run 6 miles an hour
in Still water, which Useful invention like your useful steam engine is
already copied without my consent and my patent right Violated I am involved
in a very expensive and important lawsuit, the Enemy cannot deny that they
have copied, But they hope to succeed in proving that I am not the Inventor,
for which purpose all abortive projects to navigate boats or Vessels by
steam wheels [that] have been made within the last 30 years will be
collected, in evidence against me, some of which however bear the least
resemblance to the combinations or principles of my boats: But as such high
authority as Mr. Watt would be of great importance to me on the tryal, I
should esteem it as a great favour if he would State whether there was to
the best of his knowledge a steam boat of any kind or what kind anywhere in
permanent and efficient operation anywhere in the three kingdoms in 1803 or
to the best of his knowledge anywhere in Europe. And what was his opinion
and appeared to him to be the prevaily (sac) opinion of the practicability
of making good steam boats, such for example as should run 5 miles an hour
in still water and carry 100 tons; was it his opinion in 93 that such a
project was practicable or was the mode of effecting it know[n] to him at
that time or, to the best of his knowledge known to any other person, A
Certificate of these facts as they appeared to him in 93 And affirmed to
before the mayor of Birmingham And In presence of any American who may be at
Birmingham and witnessed by by (sic) him, and particularly if he should be a
person resident in New York, Boston or Phila would be exceedingly useful to
me. Or should any respectable gentleman of Birmingham see Mr. Watt affirm to
the certificate and such person be going to London could swear before Mr.
Jonathan Russel American Charge des affairs that he knew it to be Mr.
Watts handwriting It would render the evidence on the science of steam boats
in 93 Legal in our courts and Mr. Russet would transmit the certificate
sealed with his official seal to me; Gentlemen, you have known so much of
the unblushing piracy of your own Inventions and the importance of evidance
to defend such rights, That I shall hope for this most repectable and
friendly evidence on the opinion and state of the science of steamboats in
93 which is the year I built my first boat, on the Seine near Paris and
established all the powers proportions and velocities of parts which have
given complete success to all the boats since built on these principles. 
     hoping for an answer to this letter as soon as possible believe me
gentlemen with the greatest esteem and respect your most obedient

     The conversation that he mentions as having had with Watt in Paris in
1802 or 1803 cannot have taken place, as Watt was not there in those years.
Besides, from the tone of Watt's reference to Fulton in a letter to a third
party about this time, it would appear that they had never met.
     The case was tried at Trenton, N.J. Fulton's party was represented by
their friend Thomas A. Emmet; lawyers of equal eminence being on the other
side. Great stress was laid on the letter 1 written from Torquay to Lord
Stanhope in I793, and capital was made out of the fact that the letter put
in by Fulton was a recent copy of it. No one seems to have thought of
Fulton's book on Canals, where this correspondence is referred to; that
would surely have substantiated his statement.
     In the end, an injunction against the opposition steamboat company was
obtained, and their boats, of which two had been built, were confiscated and
     Hardly had this case been disposed of than opposition arose in another
quarter. It appears that Colonel Aaron Ogden, an eminent citizen of New
Jersey, in conjunction with Daniel Dod, a well-known engine-builder, had
constructed a steamboat called the Sea Horse, with which they intended to
establish a ferry service between Elizabethtown, N.J., and New York. The
engine of this vessel, by the way, was the first of the walking-beam type,
which afterwards became so common, and Dod is usually credited with its
     Finding that the Fulton monopoly prevented him carrying out his plan,
Colonel Ogden petitioned the New York Legislature to rescind the monopoly.
The resolution, to effect this, was lost by one vote only.  
     However, Colonel Ogden, who had been chosen by the Legislature of New
Jersey on 29th October 18I2 to succeed Joseph Bloomfield, as Governor,
managed to get a law passed by that body on November 3, 1813, granting to
himself and Dod the exclusive right to run steamboats on the waters of New
Jersey. The Livingston party were at once up in arms, and appealed to the
next Legislature in 1814, to repeal the Act. Again the Livingston party were
represented by Thomas A. Emmet; while the other party had two equally famous
lawyers. The result was that the New Jersey grant was repealed on February
4, 1815.  
     Unfortunately, while this struggle was going on, Chancellor Livingston
had died at Clermont, on February 26, 1813, at the age of sixty-seven; and
just in the hour of victory Fulton contracted the chill which cut short his
     We must, however, briefly pursue the vicissitudes of the steamboat
monopoly. The matter was settled for a time by Colonel Ogden buying from the
executors of Livingston and of Fulton the exclusive right to run ferry-boats
for ten years on the route between Elizabethtown and New York. 
     He did not enjoy the privilege long before another storm began to
gather on the horizon. Thomas Gibbons, a wealthy Southerner, who passed the
summers at Elizabethtown, saw the desirability of running steamboats, and
started an opposition line with the Bellona and the Stoudinger. By a strange
vicissitude of fortune, it was the turn of Colonel Ogden, who had been the
bitterest opponent of the steamboat monopoly, now to defend it against
Gibbons. The latter was a lawyer and a man of means; as neither party would
give way, the suit dragged on till it reached the U.S. Supreme Court, which
in 1821 dismissed Gibbons case on technical grounds. Beaten, but not
crushed, he instituted a fresh trial. He engaged as his counsel Daniel
Webster, the famous jurist, who argued that the monopoly infringed the
prerogative of the Federal Government to regulate commerce, and that
therefore it was unconstitutional The result of it was that in March I825
the United States Court of Errors, sitting at Albany, decided by a majority
of 22 to 9 that no State could grant a monopoly of navigation. The Senate
Chamber and gallery were crowded with people anxious to hear the decision of
the Court on this momentous case. Thus ended a most oppressive monopoly, at
the cost of ruining one at least of the parties.
     The Boundary dispute, however, still flourished, and it is interesting
to note the sequel. In 1829 at the instance of the State of New Jersey, the
Supreme Court appointed a Commission, with representatives drawn from both
States, to settle the question. They arrived at an agreement whereby New
York so far abandoned their previous claims as to fix as the boundary the
middle of the Hudson River, of New York Bay, and of the waters between
Staten Island and New Jersey, subject to certain claims of jurisdiction over
the Bay and the Hudson south of Spuyten Duyvel Creek. This agreement was
ratified by both States in 1834.  
     As the meaning of the term " middle " was not clearly defined, it was
not long before renewed controversy arose. This was brought to an acute
stage when about 1870 the Central Railroad reclaimed land from the Hudson at
Communipaw, by filling in. Under their agreement of 1834, New York State
claimed jurisdiction over the reclaimed land. The case was taken to the New
York Court of Appeal, who decided that the jurisdiction given to New York
under that agreement was only for sanitary and police purposes. Finally, in
1888, Commissioners from the two States exactly located the boundary-line in
the middle of the channel of the river and bay. Thus was settled a
controversy which had lasted for over a hundred years.
     We must now cast our minds back a little way to the year 1810 which may
perhaps be said to have been the heyday of Fulton's mental and commercial
activities; for besides the large number of steamboatsl built or projected
for various parts of the Union, Fulton meditated nothing less than the
introduction of steam navigation throughout the civilised world, so great
was his belief in its commercial future.  
     To this end he enlisted in his interest, for exploiting English
territory, the services of Mr. J. C. Dyer, a man already favourably known as
an inventor. Many years later, after he had settled down to end his days in
this country, he, when an octogenarian, told the story of his voyages on the
Clermont, and his connection with this enterprise:
     "I undertook, in 1811, the task of inducing some of the leading
engineers and capitalists of London to engage in the construction of
steamboats, on Fulton's plan, to run on the Thames and other waters in this
country. I had obtained from Mr. Fulton (through a mutual friend) a full
description, and the drawings of his inventions and discoveries relating to
steam navigation with the result of llis labours in America. But I found it
impossible to convince any of them that steamboats could be made to run with
safety and profit in the English waters...." 
     ". . . Many of my personal friends urged me strongly not to waste my
time and money on so hopeless a task as that of introducing steam navigation
into England. Even the great and scientific engineer, John Rennie (father of
the present eminent Sir John Rennie), urged me, with parental kindness, to
drop all thoughts of bringing these boats into use and this after having
Fulton's plans before him, and fully admitting their success in America."

     In the spring of 1814 Mr. Peter Ewart expressed to Dyer the opinion
     "it did not appear likely that they (i.e. steamboats) could ever come
into general use in the waters of England," and this in spite of the fact
that he knew of Bell's success on the Clyde in 1812. 
     Dyer goes on to say: 
     "In that year (i.e. 1814)I lent Mr. Ewart Fulton's specifications and
drawings, which were sent by him to Boulton and Watt, and returned to me
about six months after. have reason to believe that that eminent house was
led thereby to make further and more exact inquiries concerning the progress
of steam navigation in America; for they, as well as several other
engineers, commenced building steamboats in 1815 and 1816.
     Even Bell's success with his vessel the Comet, the centenary of which
has just been celebrated, must be attributed in some measure to Fulton.
Bell's account of their intercourse is given in a letter 1 he wrote in I824.
     He came at different times to this country, and stopped with me for
some time. He published, soon afterwards, a Treatise on Canal Declining
Railways. I have this Book at hand, but you may obtain it by applying to Mr.
Taylor, bookseller, London, price 21S. Mr. Fulton published this work in
England in 1804 and on his way to France called on me; and also when he
returned. He was employed by the American Government to come to England, to
take drawings of our cotton and other machinery, which quickened his desires
after all the engineering branches; these he took up very quickly. He was
also a good painter, and excelled in miniature likenesses. When I wrote to
the American Government on the great importance of steam navigation they
appointed Mr. Fulton to correspond with me.... " 
     Although, from what has gone before, we know that this is a garbled
account, yet it is just what one might expect from a comparatively
uneducated man like Bell. We shall not be far wrong in gathering from it
that he and Fulton first met in 1804 because that date is corroborated by
another account given by Bell in 1816. If so, it must have been at the time
that Fulton went to see Symington's Charlotte Dundas. 
     It was a letter of Fulton's, written after he had achieved success with
the Clermont, that stirred up Bell. He says: 
     "This letter led me to think of the absurdity of writlng my opinion to
other countries and not putting it in practice in my own country; and from
these considerations I was roused to set on foot a steamboat for which I
made a number of different models before I was satisfied."
     The story of the difficulties and trials that beset his path is a long
one; suffice it to say that five years, almost to a day, elapsed before he
succeeded, although on a much smaller scale, in repeating Fulton's
     James Watt, junior, in 1816 engined an experimental boat, and tried her
across the German Ocean and up the Rhine. Thereafter his firm engaged very
extensively in the marine engine business.  It was not very many years later
to be exact, in 1819 that Mr. Rennie had quite changed his mind, and he
constantly thereafter urged upon the Admiralty the value of steam-tugs in
towing men-of-war. Thus were the tables completely turned.
    It will not be difficult for the engineering reader with the aid of the
drawings attached to Fulton's patents to trace the evolution of the
side-lever engine from his first engine of 1804; and we can, therefore, with
every confidence, attribute the germ of this design to him, and thus give
the credit where it is deserved.  
    After England, Russia appears to have had an attraction for Fulton as a
field for enterprise. He wrote, in November 1811 to John Quincy Adams, then
American Ambassador in Russia, to ask him to obtain an exclusive right for
twenty years for a steamboat-service between St. Petersburg and Cronstadt,
to be established in three years after obtainmg the grant.
     A Russian gentleman, Chevalier Swinine, wrote to Fulton a very
significant letter, offering his services. How he had got wind of the affair
does not appear, but an extract from his letter 1 will be of interest:
     "Doubtless, Sir, it is known to you that for several months past I have
been taken up with your admirable invention of the steam boat, dedicating
all my knowledge for its introduction in Russia. As you have received the
Imperial permission for this introduction, I offer you, Sir, my services
which I flatter myself may be of great utility. Certainly it will be
necessary for you to have the plan of the River Neva and of the channel from
St. Petersbourg to Cronstadt to have the clearest information of the value
of materials necessary for the construction of the steamboat, the
description of other communications by water in Russia." 
      His conditions were that he should have the title " Superintendent of
the Steamboats of Russia "; and, of course, that he should have an annual
      The principal point to observe is that Fulton had received the
Imperial permission to introduce steamboats. Naturally he wanted a good deal
more than this, and on April 12 1812 he wrote  to the Chevalier, saying,
that he must wait for Mr. Adams's answer, for until then he could not decide
what to do.  
     We know that a steamboat, the Emperor of Russia, was on the stocks at
the time of Fulton s death, and it has been suggested that it was built for
the service under consideration, but as there were no means of getting it to
Russia, this could not have been the case; the name must have been given
merely as a compliment, but it goes to show that there was something below
the surface. As a matter of fact, the first experiments on the Neva were
made in November 1815 by Charles Baird, Superintendent of the Mines, with a
barge which had been rebuilt for the purpose, and fitted with an engine of
the side-lever type and an externally fired boiler having a brick chimney.
These experiments were successful, and in 1817 Baird built a vessel 60 feet
long especially for steam propulsion and with her established a passenger
service between St. Petersburg and Cronstadt. This engine was almost
identical with that shown on Sheet 2 of Fulton's second specification 2 and
if the design was not obtained from him then all that can be said is that
the coincidence is very remarkable. The boiler, too, was just the kind that
Fulton was in the habit of fitting. Some day the true relation to one
another of these significant facts will be made plain. We do know that Baird
had a monopoly of steam navigation on the Neva for twenty years and thereout
drew no small return.  
     Then again India seems to have had a fascination for Fulton, attracted
no doubt by the size of her rivers and the teeming population on their
     He entered into an agreement with a certain Thomas Law l to introduce
steamboats on the Ganges. In a letter 2 to him dated April 16,18I2 Fulton
     "I agree to make the Ganges enterprise a joint concern. You will please
to send me a plan how you mean to proceed to secure a grant for 20 years and
find funds to establish the first boat. This work is so honorable and
important. It is so grand an Idea that Americans should establish steam
vessels to work in India that it requires vigor, activity, exertion,
industry, attention, and that no time should be lost. My Paragon beats
everything on the globe for made as you and I are, we cannot tell what is in
the moon; this Day she came in from Albany I60 miles in 26 hours, wind
ahead." The letter finished with the words
			"Keep the Ganges Secret." 

   Here again, sad to relate, some hitch occurred, whether due to Fulton's
death or not we do not know, and no steamboat was seen in India till eight
years later when it was introduced from England.

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