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Fulton's Own Account Of His First Trip To Albany [1807]

 

I arrived this afternoon at four o'clock in the steamboat from Albany. As the success of my experiment gives me great hopes that such boats may be rendered of great importance to my country to prevent erroneous opinions and give some satisfaction to my friends of useful improvements, you will have the goodness to publish the following statement of facts:

I left New York on Monday at one o'clock and arrived at Clermont, the seat of Chancellor Livingston, at one o'clock on Tuesday: time, twenty-four hours; distance, one hundred and ten miles. On Wednesday I departed from the Chancellor's at nine in the morning, and arrived at Albany at five in the afternoon: distance, forty miles; time, eight hours. The sum is one hundred and fifty miles in thirtytwo hours, equal to near five miles an hour.

On Thursday, at nine o'clock in the morning, I left Albany, and arrived at the Chancellor's at six in the evening. I started from thence at seven, and arrived at New York at four in the afternoontime, thirty hours; space run through, one hundred and fifty miles, equal to five miles an hour. Throughout my whole way, both going and returning, the wind was ahead. No advantage could be
derived from my sails. The whole has therefore been performed by the power of the steam-engine.

SECOND LETTER

My steamboat voyage to Albany and back has turned out rather more favorably than I had calculated. The distance from New York to Albany is one hundred and fifty miles. I ran it up in thirty-two hours, and down in thirty. I had a light breeze against me the whole way, both going and coming; and the voyage has been performed wholly by the power of the steam-engine. I overtook many sloops and schooners beating to windward, and parted with them.

The power of propelling boats by steam is now fully proved. Turning I left New York there were not perhaps thirty persons in the city who believed that the boat would ever move one mile an hour or be of the least utility; and, while we were putting of from the wharf, which was crowded with spectators, I heard a number of sarcastic remarks. This is the way in which ignorant men compliment what they call philosophers and projectors.

Having employed much time, money, and zeal in accomplishing this work, it gives me, as it will you, great pleasure to see it answer my expectations. It will give a cheap and quick conveyance to the merchandise on the Mississippi, Missouri, and other great rivers, which are now laying open their treasures to the enterprise of our countrymen; and, altho the prospect of personal emolument has been some inducement to me, yet I feel infinitely more pleasure in reflecting on the immense advantage my country will derive.