Robert Fulton: Inventor of the Steamboat by Frances Melville Perry

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Frances Melville Perry
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Robert Fulton: Inventor of the Steamboat

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Book review

Originally published in 1901 as a portion of the author’s larger “Four American Inventors,” and equivalent in length to a physical book of approximately 40 pages, this Kindle edition describes the life and work of Robert Fulton, who built the first successful paddle steamer, the “Clermont.”


I. A Boy with Ideas
II. Working Out Some of the Ideas
III. The Young Artist
IV. The Artist Becomes an Engineer
V. Experiments
VI. Making the Steamboat
VII. The Trial Voyage
VIII. Success
IX. Steamboats on the Hudson
X. Other Interests
XI. His Work Ended

Includes supplemental material:

•A Brief Summary of the Life of Robert Fulton
•A Brief History of Steamboats Before the “Clermont”

Sample passage:
When the command was given to start, the vessel struck out boldly and the wheels churned the blue water into foam. There was a moment of amazed silence. Then a cheer arose. But the boat stopped, and the cheer also stopped before they had gone far. Those who were on the boat believed it would never go further. They felt that they were being made fun of by the spectators, and wished they were on land. They took no pains to hide their impatience. It was a trying moment for Mr. Fulton. He stood on a chair where all could see him and begged them to be patient for thirty minutes. He said that if all was not right by that time, he would give up the trip and land the passengers. His handsome face, his brilliant eyes, his voice lull of feeling and earnestness, aroused the sympathy and respect, if not the hopes, of his friends: and they warmly expressed their willingness to wait an hour if need be. He hurried down to the engine. He found that the difficulty was a very slight one and easily corrected. In a few minutes the little vessel started again, and this time she kept steadily on, her way up the river. Then a great chorus of cheers arose from the throng on the bank. The men who had come to see the end of “Fulton’s folly” waved hats and handkerchiefs, and shouted at the top of their voices in honor of the man who had done what had seemed to them impossible.

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