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|Robert Fulton, Jr.|
|Birthplace||Little Britain, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania|
Fulton, Robert,1765–1815, American inventor, engineer, and painter, b. near Lancaster, Pa. He was a man remarkable for his many talents and his mechanical genius. An expert gunsmith at the time of the American Revolution, he later turned to painting (1782–86) landscapes and portraits in Philadelphia. In England and France his painting gained some notice, but he became interested in canal engineering and the invention of machinery. He worked at making underwater torpedoes and submarines as well as other mechanical devices. In 1802 he contracted to build a steamboat for Robert R. Livingston, who held a monopoly on steamboat navigation on the Hudson. In 1807 the Clermont, equipped with an English engine, was launched. A number of men had built steamboats before Fulton (see steamshipsteamship,
watercraft propelled by a steam engine or a steam turbine. Early Steam-powered Ships
Marquis Claude de Jouffroy d'Abbans is generally credited with the first experimentally successful application of steam power to navigation; in 1783 his Pyroscaphe
..... Click the link for more information. ), including John Fitch and William Symington. Fulton's steamship, however, was the first to be commercially successful in American waters, and Fulton was therefore popularly considered the inventor of the steamboat. He also designed other vessels, among them a steam warship.
See biographies by B. Richnak (1984) and C. O. Philip (1985).
Born Nov. 14, 1765, in Little Britain (now in Fulton township), Pa.; died Feb. 24, 1815, in New York City. American inventor, originator of the first practical steamboat.
In his early years, Fulton worked as a gunsmith, a jeweler’s apprentice, and a painter. In 1786 he went to Great Britain, where he studied painting under B. West. After becoming interested in engineering, he helped design canals, locks, and aqueducts. He also designed machines for sawing marble, spinning flax, and twisting hemp rope. In the 1790’s he became interested in the problem of using steam to power ships. He moved to Paris in 1797, where in 1800 he built and successfully tested a self-propelled torpedo and the submersible Nautilus, which possessed the major characteristics of modern-day submarines. In 1803, Fulton gave a demonstration on the Seine River of the first steamboat, which had a speed of about 7.5 km/hr. Receiving no support for his inventions from the French government, he returned to Great Britain in 1804. In 1806, Fulton returned to the USA, where he built the paddle steamboat Clermont, using a steam engine with a capacity of 20 hp (14.7 kilowatts). In August 1807 the Clermont made its first trip up the Hudson River from New York City to Albany; regular steamship service was later established over this section of the Hudson.
Fulton subsequently built several paddle steamboats, including the world’s first steam warship, the Demologos, which had been intended for use in the war against Great Britain. In the last years of his life, Fulton worked on a design for a canal between the Great Lakes and New York harbor.
REFERENCESWilson, M. Amerikanskie uchenye i izobretateli. Moscow, 1964. (Translated from English.)
V. V. NOVIKOV