Profile of Robert Fulton
Harnessing steam meant boats no longer had to
Hi, I'm Christina Hartman and today About.com is profiling American inventor, Robert Fulton.Robert Fulton was born in Little Britain, Pennsylvania, on November 14, 1765. When he was a young man, Fulton wanted to be an artist. He traveled to England when he was 23, hoping to enjoy a career as a portrait painter. Instead, he began experimenting in mechanical design.Fulton developed a passion for engineering canal systems. He designed a new type of canal boat, and a mechanism for lifting boats over difficult terrain. He also designed bridges featuring beams that could transmit loads to piers.While he was living in France, Fulton designed a submarine which he called the Nautilus. The Nautilus carried containers of compressed air that allowed Fulton and his two-man crew to remain submerged for almost five hours in 1801.Fulton's greatest achievement came in 1807, when he and a partner built the world's first commercial steamboat. Called the Clermont, it transported passengers on the Hudson River between New York City and Albany.People had called it “Fulton's Folly,” but Fulton's steamboat transformed the way people traveled and goods were shipped. Harnessing steam allowed boats to no longer had to depend on winds and tides. Steamboats helped make the Industrial Revolution possible.Fulton's final design was a steam-powered warship, but he never got to see her sail. Robert Fulton died in New York City on February 24, 1815 at the age of 49. But the warship was named the USS Fulton in his honor.Thanks for watching our profile of American inventor, Robert Fulton. For more information, go to About.com.