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ROBERT FULTON.

Tuis individual, who was the first to establish steam navigation, was born of Irish parents, in Little Britain, Pennsylvania, in the year 1765, being the third child and only son.

His father died when he was young, and he had no other means of education than that afforded by the village school.

Following the bent of his genius, he devoted himself to drawing and painting, and at the age of seventeen he was pursuing this avocation for a livelihood. Such was his success, that at the age of twenty-one, he had acquired sufficient means for the purchase of a small farm in Washington county, which he settled on his mother, and which yet remains in the possession of the family.

In 1786, he embarked for England, and became an inmate in the family of his countryman, Benjamin West. An intimacy thus grew up between the young adventurer and the great artist, which was only dissolved by death. He continued to pursue his vocation, and, during a residence of two years in Devonshire, he became acquainted with the celebrated Duke of Bridgewater and the Earl of Stanhope. About this time he conceived a plan for the improvement of canal navigation, and he received the thanks of two societies for various projects suggested by him. In 1796, he published, in London, a treatise on canal improvements.

From England he now proceeded to France, and took up his lodgings at the same hotel with our countryman, Joel Barlow. When the latter moved to his own house, Fulton accepted an invitation to accompany him, and he continued to reside with him for seven years. During this period he studied several modern languages, and perfected himself in the higher branches of the mathematics and natural philosophy. He had now abandoned painting, but his skill in drawing aided him in his mechanical pursuits. It was about this period that he projected the first panorama exhibited in Paris.

The attention of Fulton was early drawn to the subject of steam navigation, as appears by his correspondence with the Earl of Stanhope. But his mind was devoted for a time to the destruction of ships of war by submarine explosion. Hence his invention of the torpedo, and the plunging-boat. With the latter he succeeded in remaining under water several engaged with

hours, while he could navigate it with facility in any direction. He partially succeeded in his views, but not to the satisfaction of the governments under whose auspices he prosecuted his scheme.

While Fulton was in France, and still his experiments in submarine explosions, Robert R. Livingston, of New York, arrived in that country as minister to the court of France. He had been engaged in some attempts to establish steam navigation in the United States, and an intimacy between him and Fulton immediately commenced. They soon agreed to pursue the subject which interested them both, and an experimental boat was soon built on the Seine. It was completed in the spring of 1803, but she was imperfectly constructed, and one night she severed in twain, and went to the bottom with all her machinery. After great labor, she was raised and repaired, and an experiment was made with her in July, which was so far satisfactory as to determine the projectors to continue their efforts.

In 1806, Mr. Fulton returned to America, having procured a steam engine, which was constructed according to his directions, by Messrs. Watt and Bol. ton, of England. He immediately commenced the building of his first steamboat at New York. In the spring of 1807, she was launched from the ship-yard of Mr. Charles Brown; the engine from England was put on board, and, in August, she moved, by the aid of her machinery, from her birth-place to the Jersey shore.

Great interest had been excited in the public mind in relation to the new experiment, and the wharves were crowded with spectators, assembled to witness the first trial. Ridicule and jeers were freely poured forth upon the boat and its projectors, until, at length, as she moved from the wharf, and increased her speed, the silence of astonishment which, at first enthralled the immense assemblage, was broken by one universal shout of acclamation and applause. The triumph of genius was complete, and the name of Fulton was thenceforward destined to stand enrolled among the benefactors of mankind.

The new boat was called the Clermont, in compliment to the place of residence of Mr. Livingston, and shortly after made her first trip to Albany and back, at an average speed of five miles an hour. The successful application of Mr. Fulton's invention had now been fairly tried, and the efficacy of navigation by steam fully determined. The Clermont was advertised as a packet-boat between New York and Albany, and continued, with some intermissions, running the remainder of the season. Two other boats, the Raritan and Car of Neptune, were launched the same year, and a regular passenger line of steamboats was established from that period between New York and Albany. In each of these boats, great improvements were made, although the machinery was yet imperfect.

We have not space to follow Mr. Fulton through the details of his subsequent career. Altogether thirteen boats were built in the city of New York under his superintendance, the last being the steam frigate, which, in compliment to its projector, was called Ful'ton the I. The keel of this immense vessel was laid in June, 1814, and in about four months, she was launched amid the roar of cannon and the plaudits of thousands of spectators. Before the conclusion of this vast undertaking, Fulton was summoned from the scene of his labors, after a short illness, occasioned by severe exposure. He died in the city of New York, February 4th, 1814.

Mr. Fulton left a family of four children-one son and three daughters; and, as is too frequently the case with the benefactors of mankind, he died encumbered with a load of debt which had been contracted in those pursuits which have produced such beneficent results to his country and the world at large.

The personal character of Fulton was in the highest degree attractive. His manners were cordial, cheerful and unembarrassed. He was a kind husband, an affectionate parent, and a zealous friend. Independent of his public fame, he has left, as a private individual, an unsullied reputation, and a memory void of reproach.

The attempt has been frequently made, by those who were governed by narrow and unworthy motives, to deprive Fulton of the credit due for the greatest achievement of modern times—the actual establishment of steam navigation. The futility of such attempts is sufficiently evinced by the notorious fact, that, in 1807, he had put in practical operation the first steamboat that ever was built, and that no boat was launched in Europe which proved successful till five years after. This was constructed by Mr. Bell, of Glasgow, in 1812. At this time, four of Fulton's boats were running from New York.

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