Fulton, Robert - History

Fulton, Robert - History

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Fulton, Robert (1765-1815) Inventor: Robert Fulton was born in Little Britain Township, now called Fulton, in Pennsylvania. The son of an Irish immigrant, he explored his interest in mechanics and invention from his childhood. At the age of thirteen, he successfully devised paddle wheels for a fishing boat. Between 1782 and 1785, he lived in Philadelphia and worked as a painter; making miniature portraits and landscapes, as well as mechanical and architectural drawings. Among his friends in Philadelphia were Benjamin Franklin. In 1786, he went to London, where he studied painting with the great American painter and teacher, Benjamin West. While working as a painter in England, Fulton came under the patronage of the Duke of Bridgewater and the Earl of Stanhope, two men with strong interests in mechanics and engineering. His friendship with these individuals led to his beginning experiments in mechanics. In 1794, he obtained a patent for a double-inclined plane for raising or lowering boats from different levels in a canal system; as well as a patent for a mill to saw marble. Among his other patented inventions in Britain were a machine for spinning flax, a dredging-machine, a passage boat, a despatch boat, and an amphibious boat to be used on canals. In 1796, he published a treatise entitled, "Treatise on the Improvement of Canal Navigation," copies of which he sent to various officials in the United States, including the President. In 1797, after traveling to Paris, he conducted experiments on the Seine with a boat for submarine navigation, designed for use in torpedo warfare. When he was unable to blow up the British ships that sailed along the French coast with his submarine vessel, he abandoned his efforts in that direction. The British government and, later, the American government helped support his continuing research with torpedoes. Although he was finally successful in blowing up a ship with a torpedo, his system was never adopted. He turned his attention to steamboats, having launched a faulty one on the Seine in 1803. Having moved to the United States, he made another effort. This attempt was successful in that the steamboat moved, but at a very low speed. Fulton ordered an engine from England,. then tried his steamboat out another time. On August 11, 1807, Fulton placed his "Clermont" on the Hudson River in New York State, and it steamed from New York City to Albany in 32 hours. A great success, the "Clermont" began commercial trips up and down the Hudson in the autumn of 1807. Unfortunately, Fulton's success created many enemies for him, so that many disputed the originality of his ideas and designs, trying to rob him of the profits from his work through lawsuits and competition. Although many others introduced steamboats of different varieties before Fulton, only Fulton can be credited with making the steamboat a practical conveyance for passengers and freight. Fulton continued to supervise the construction of other vessels, and, in 1814, he submitted plans to the Coast and Harbor Defense Committee to build a steam warship. He began working on modifications to his submarine boat, the "Nautilus." While crossing the Hudson River after testifying in New Jersey in a steamboat case, he was exposed to cold, and became ill. Without finishing his plans for the "Nautilus," he died in New York on February 24, 1815.

Fulton, Robert - History

Fulton painted Benjamin Franklin's portrait and had two works accepted by the Royal Academy in London.

Photos: American Society of Mechanical Engineers

A savvy artist-turned-technologist took steamboat inventions and innovated them into the first viable commercial steamboat service.

Portrait Painter
Although Robert Fulton did not invent the steamboat, as is commonly believed, he was instrumental in making steamboat travel a reality. He was born in Pennsylvania in 1765. As a young man, he set out to make his name as a portrait painter. His career would take him to Europe -- and into the orbit of people with the power to back him politically and financially.

New Career
Fulton ventured into London society after he painted Benjamin Franklin's portrait. While abroad, Fulton left the arts for a career in canal and shipbuilding. He was interested in the recently-invented steam engine, and thought it could be used to power ships. Fulton's vision was not original many others had entered the field, and the unfortunate inventor John Fitch had built a working steamship already. But like Henry Ford, Fulton's genius lay not in invention but in adaptation for the marketplace.

Fulton was not focused entirely on the steamboat. In 1804, he tested the first successful submarine, which he had built for the British Navy. His invention would make him a celebrity upon his return to the United States two years later. Fulton's partner, Robert Livingstone, who had negotiated the Louisiana Purchase from France, obtained an exclusive license for steamboat services on New York's Hudson River. It was time for Fulton to deliver.

Steamboat Service
To build an efficient, reliable steamboat, Fulton used a special English steam engine. The ship's bottom was flat and its stern was square. Clermont made its debut on August 17, 1807, steaming upriver from New York to Albany, and it soon entered into commercial service. The hilly terrain of New York made water travel faster than land travel, and Fulton's boat -- formerly known as "Fulton's Folly" -- was a hit. Within five years, Fulton would be running services on six major rivers plus the Chesapeake Bay, and raking in the profits.

Instrumental Transport
Fulton's innovation left quite a legacy. Steamboat travel was instrumental to the industrial revolution in America, helping manufacturers transport raw materials and finished goods quickly. It also opened up the American continent to exploration, settlement, and exploitation. Fulton died of pneumonia in February 1815, having created the service that carried Americans into a prosperous future.

Robert Fulton

Robert Fulton was an American inventor best known for his construction of the first practical boat powered by steam. Fulton was born on November 14, 1765, in Little Britain, Pennsylvania, now called Fulton. His father immigrated from Ireland in the early part of the century. Fulton showed early talent for mechanical devices. Like Samuel F.B. Morse in the next century, Robert Fulton was an artist as well as an inventor. Working first as an artist in Philadelphia, he went to London in 1786 to study under Benjamin West. While in England, he encountered the earl of Stanhope and the Duke of Bridgewater, both of whom were active in engineering developments and provided Fulton with contacts through which his active experimentation began. The Duke of Bridgewater was well known for his role in the construction of a canal from Worsley to Manchester. Fulton himself developed a number of new ideas, including a double inclined plane to raise and lower boats in canals from one level to another. Fulton sent letters to George Washington and other Americans, describing the advantages of canal navigation to the new country. In 1797, Fulton moved to France, where he began experiments with submarines. In the winter of 1800-1801, Fulton's experimental sub had successful trial runs off Le Havre. The French government provided him with more money and offered to pay him for any British shipping destroyed, but the submarine was not a military success. The English decided it was better to have him working on their side, so Fulton left France for Britain in 1804. The British eventually concluded that the submarine was not workable, and Fulton returned to America in 1806. The United States Congress provided him with funds for further submarine research, but the project was never a success. Fulton had shown an interest in using steam power for navigation as early as 1793. With the support of Robert Livingston, Fulton launched his first steam ship on the river Seine in France, but it sank immediately. His luck was better on the Hudson, and on August 17, 1807, his ship the Clermont steamed up the river from New York City on its way to Albany. The New York legislature granted Fulton and Livingston a 30-year monopoly on the Hudson River. Steam powered boats quickly multiplied. Fulton was never able to clearly establish his patents are the original inventor and was constantly involved in litigation. Traveling in connection with one such lawsuit, he became ill and died on February 24, 1815 in New York City.

Robert Fulton's Milestones

On August 17, 1807, the Clermont, Robert Fulton's first American steamboat, left New York City for Albany, serving as the inaugural commercial steamboat service in the world. The ship traveled from New York City to Albany making history with a 150-mile trip that took 32 hours at an average speed of about five miles per hour.

Four years later, Fulton and Livingston designed the New Orleans and put it into service as a passenger and freight boat with a route along the lower Mississippi River. By 1814, Fulton, together with Robert Livingston’s brother, Edward, was offering regular steamboat and freight service between New Orleans, Louisiana, and Natchez, Mississippi. Their boats traveled at rates of eight miles per hour downstream and three miles per hour upstream.


Robert Fulton was born on a small farm in Little Britain, Pennsylvania. When he was six years old, his family lost the farm and was forced to move to Lancaster, Pennsylvania where his dad worked as a tailor. A few years later, tragedy struck the family again when Robert's father died.

As a boy, Robert loved to build things and experiment. He made his own lead pencils, built mechanical paddles for his boat, and even made fireworks for a Fourth of July celebration. Robert also liked to draw and was a very good artist. At the age of fifteen he went to work for a silversmith as an apprentice.

After a few years working as an apprentice, Robert moved to Philadelphia to pursue a career as an artist. He managed to make some money painting portraits and was able to buy his mother a small farmhouse. While living in Philadelphia, he met several famous people including Benjamin Franklin.

In 1786, Robert went to Europe to further his art career. While living in Europe, he began to study science and mathematics. His interests shifted from art to invention. Robert was especially interested in canals and ships. He came up with new ways to dredge canals, to raise and lower boats, and to design bridges. He also invented a tool for spinning flax into linen and a machine to saw marble.

Fulton moved to Paris in 1797. While in Paris he designed a submarine called the Nautilus. Many consider the Nautilus to be the first practical submarine. Fulton successfully tested his submarine in various situations. It had a hand-cranked screw propeller that enabled it move under water. He successfully submerged to a depth of 25 feet and remained there for an hour.

In order to progress, Fulton needed money to build and test more submarines. Through his friends, he had a meeting with Napoleon, the Emperor of France. Napoleon, however, thought that Fulton was a crook and just wanted his money. He told Fulton that if he could sink a British ship with his submarine, then he would be paid. Later, the British government convinced Fulton to switch sides and go to work for them.

Fulton's next idea was to build a boat that was powered by a steam engine. He partnered with New York businessman Robert Livingston who agreed to fund the project. Robert's first steamboat quickly broke apart and sunk. However, he didn't give up. He learned from his mistakes and, a year later, successfully tested out his first steamboat in England.

Robert now wanted to build a steamboat in the United States, but he ran into a problem. England would not let him take a steam engine out of the country. They were trying to keep the technology of steam power for themselves. After almost two years of working, he was finally permitted to bring a single steam engine to the United States.

The North River Steamboat (Clermont)
Author: Unknown
Source: Project Gutenberg archives

The North River Steamboat

Fulton and Livingston used Fulton's steam engine to build the North River Steamboat (sometimes called the Clermont). It was launched in 1807 and operated on the Hudson River. The boat was a great success. Soon, Fulton and Livingston had more steamboats built. They branched out to other areas including the Mississippi River where they introduced a steamboat named the "New Orleans" in 1811. They built a successful business and introduced the steamboat as a new form of transportation to the world.

Did Robert Fulton invent the steamboat?

Robert Fulton didn't invent the first steamboat. Steam power had been used previously by other inventors to power boats. However, Fulton did invent the first commercially successful steamboat and brought the technology of steam power to the rivers of the United States. Fulton's steam boats helped to power the Industrial Revolution by moving goods and people throughout the United States during the 1800s.


Fulton was born in Stockton Heath, a civil parish of Warrington, in the English county of Cheshire. He moved to Australia with his family when he was four years old.

At 17 years of age, Fulton made his senior football debut in the Illawarra Rugby League with Western Suburbs in 1965 and went on to represent Country Seconds. [ citation needed ]

Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles Edit

Fulton was signed to Sydney's Manly-Warringah by club secretary Ken Arthurson after being spotted by John Hobbs (Manly talent scout) and started his NSWRFL first grade career in 1966 aged eighteen. [ citation needed ] As a centre or five-eighth Fulton made an immediate impact. He earned State representative honours in 1967 and was an absolute beast the following year became the youngest ever captain in Grand Final history when he led Manly in the 1968 decider against Souths.

Fulton made 219 appearances for the Manly club between 1966 and 1976. He scored 520 points (129 tries, 10 goals and 56 field goals) – the club's record try tally until Steve Menzies went one better in 2006. Fulton won premierships with Manly in 1972 (also the League's top try-scorer this season), 1973 and 1976. In the 1973 bloodbath against Cronulla he single-handedly took control of the game scoring two tries to take the side to victory.

At the end of the 1976 season Fulton caused a sensation in Sydney rugby league circles when he left Manly and signed a 3-year deal with the Eastern Suburbs club. He left Manly holding the club record for most tries. [7]

Warrington Wolves Edit

Following the 1969 NSWRFL season, Fulton accepted an offer to play a season with his 'home town' club Warrington in the 1969–70 English season. Fulton played 16 games for Warrington, scoring 16 tries and kicking 1 field goal before returning to Australia and Manly for the 100% won that year1970 season.

Eastern Suburbs Roosters Edit

Fulton played 56 matches for the Eastern Suburbs club, mainly at five-eighth. In his first season there Fulton was a member of the side that won the pre-season cup and was the club's leading try scorer. In 1978 he was a member of the Easts side that defeated St George in the mid-week cup final. In 1979, Fulton was appointed captain-coach at the Roosters. [ citation needed ] A chronic knee injury saw him retire after just eight games that year.

Representative career Edit

Fulton made his international début for Australia in the 1968 Rugby League World Cup and played in the World Cup Final at the Sydney Cricket Ground. Playing as a five-eighth, Fulton won his first of three World Cups when Australia defeated France 20–2. [8] He was disappointed in 1967 missing out on the Kangaroo Squad as 2nd string five-eighth to Tony Branson from the Nowra Warriors. Thereafter for the next eleven seasons he was a consistent national representative.

He toured New Zealand in 1971, was on the 1973 and 1978 Kangaroo Tours, played in home Ashes series against Great Britain in 1970 and 1974 and the home series against New Zealand in 1972 and 1978. He participated in Australian squads at four World cups – 1968, 1970 (including Australia's 12–7 World Cup Final win over Great Britain at Headingley), 1972 (including Australia's 10–all draw with Great Britain in the World Cup Final in Lyon, France, though the Lions would win the tournament as they had finished on top of the ladder) and 1975 (won by Australia). He was named as the World Cup Man of the Series in 1970. The same knee injury that would eventually force his retirement as a player in 1979 would keep him from Australia's winning 1977 Rugby League World Cup squad.

He was honoured with the Australian captaincy in the 2nd and 3rd Tests of the 1978 series against New Zealand and in all five Tests of the 1978 Kangaroo Tour, though that included the 2–0 series loss to France at the end of the tour, the last time Australia would lose a series or tournament until the 2005 Rugby League Tri-Nations. Fulton captained his country to a total of 4 wins and 3 losses.

On both of his Kangaroo Tours Fulton was the leading try scorer – with 20 tries from 5 Tests and 9 tour matches in 1973 and 9 tries from 5 Tests and 10 tour matches in 1978.

All told he appeared in 16 representative matches for New South Wales. He represented Australia in 20 Test matches, 15 World Cup matches and 22 minor internationals whilst on tour.

Coaching career Edit

After retiring as a player at Easts, Fulton became coach of the Roosters. His was one of the few clubs opposed to the State of Origin concept when it first began and he called it the "non-event of the century". [9] At the end of his first season as coach, he took Easts to the 1980 Grand Final where they were beaten by the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs. He went on to coach the Roosters for two more seasons.

He returned to Manly as coach in 1983 and in that same year took them to a Grand Final against the Parramatta Eels where the club was unsuccessful for the second year running. In 1987, he guided the Paul Vautin-captained Sea Eagles side to a premiership victory over the Canberra Raiders in the last Grand Final played at the Sydney Cricket Ground, becoming in the process the first person at Manly to win premierships both as captain and as coach. Following the grand final victory, he travelled with Manly to England for the 1987 World Club Challenge against their champions, Wigan, though Manly-Warringah were beaten in a tryless game 8-2.

In 1989, Fulton succeeded Don Furner as coach of the Australian national side. He guided the team in 39 Tests between 1989 and 1998 to 32 victories, one draw and six losses, [10] including the successful 1990 and 1994 Kangaroo tours, as well as winning both the 1992 and 1995 World Cup Finals.

In three consecutive three-Test Ashes series (1990, 1992 and 1994) as well as the 1991 Trans-Tasman Test series, the Australians were taken to a deciding Test and emerged victorious.

In 1993 Fulton returned to Manly as coach and he guided the club to three successive Grand Finals from 1995. Fulton won his second and last premiership as a coach in 1996 when in their 50th season the Manly-Warringah club defeated St George 20–8 in a win at the Sydney Football Stadium.

Super League war Edit

As national coach during the Super League war Fulton played a prime role along with NSW State coach Phil Gould in signing players to stabilise the ARL competition. Fulton was a longstanding and loyal friend of Kerry Packer who wholeheartedly backed the ARL and his own commercial interests and rights to broadcast the traditional game.

Selector Edit

From 1999, Fulton was a selector of the New South Wales and Australian sides. [11]

Commentator Edit

From 1997, Fulton was a member of the Continuous Call Team, first on radio 2UE, and later on 2GB with Ray Hadley, Erin Molan, Darryl Brohman, Mark Levy, David Morrow and Mark Riddell .

National service Edit

Fulton was conscripted into the Army in 1968 and allotted to artillery. He was effectively exempted from active service by being posted to the School of Artillery in Manly NSW as a Physical Training Instructor (PTI), enabling him to pursue his professional football career while technically fulfilling his national service obligation. He also spent time on HMAS Sydney taking the troops through PT during the voyage to South Vietnam.

In 1981, he was selected by the publication Rugby League Week as one of the initial four post-war "Immortals" of the Australian game alongside Churchill, Raper and Gasnier. Fulton was also inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame in 1985. [12] In 1994 Fulton was inducted as a Member of the Order of Australia "for service to rugby league football" and in 2000 he received the Australian Sports Medal. In 2002 he was inducted into the Australian Rugby League Hall of Fame.

In February 2008, Fulton was named in the list of Australia's 100 Greatest Players (1908–2007) which was commissioned by the NRL and ARL to celebrate the code's centenary year in Australia. [13] [14] Fulton went on to be named as an interchange player in Australian rugby league's Team of the Century. Announced on 17 April 2008, the team is the panel's majority choice for each of the thirteen starting positions and four interchange players. [15] [16] Respected rugby league commentator Roy Masters, believes he was left off the starting team due to his versatility, making it difficult to put him in just in one position.

In 2008 New South Wales announced their rugby league team of the century also, naming Fulton as a five-eighth. [17]

He was made a life member of the Sydney Cricket Ground and a plaque in the Walk of Honour there commemorates his career. He was a member of the Order of Australia (AM).

Fulton is one of only two people to have gone on four Kangaroo Tours. Fulton toured as a player in 1973 and 1978 and as team coach in 1990 and 1994. The other is Mal Meninga who made four tours as a player on the unbeaten 1982 and 1986 tours and as the team captain under Fulton's coaching in both 1990 and 1994. He is also the only person to have captained and coached Kangaroos touring teams on separate tours.

Fulton was married to Anne until his death. The couple had two sons and a daughter – Scott, Brett and Kristie Fulton. Both sons also played first grade for Manly.

Fulton, aged 73, died of cancer on 23 May 2021 at St Vincent's Hospital in Darlinghurst, Sydney. A state funeral was offered by premier of New South Wales Gladys Berejiklian. [4]

He was laid to rest at St Mary's Cathedral in Sydney on 4 June 2021, with hundreds of Australian sporting and media personalities in attendance.


The first European settlement in what would become Callaway County was in 1808 at Cote Sans Dessein, along the Missouri River. At this time the area was part of Louisiana Territory, which the United States had purchased from France in 1803. Cote Sans Dessein was originally chosen as the site of Missouri’s permanent state capital, but after questions regarding title to the land were raised, the location was moved to Jefferson City.

Callaway County was created in 1820 out of a section of Montgomery County and named after Captain James Callaway, who was killed by Indians in 1815. The town of Elizabeth, located on Ham’s Prairie, became the county seat. In June 1825, George Nichols founded what would eventually become the City of Fulton. Originally named Volney, after French author Count Constantin Volney, many in the community were unhappy with the name as the man’s beliefs were much different than those living in the town. So two months later, the town’s name was changed to Fulton, named after Robert Fulton, the inventor of the first commercial successful steamboat.

In 1861, leaders answered the call to defend Callaway County when word arrived that Union troops had advanced to a nearby county. Colonel Jefferson F. Jones, from eastern Callaway County, assembled troops to protect the county. Forces were limited as many were already defending the country, but Jones marched the troops eastward to meet the approaching companies.

The successful defense was merely an illusion. Tree logs, erected by the troops, resembled artillery in the shadows of campfires and deterred Union troops. Talks continued several days and secured a mutual cease fire agreement between the United Sates and Callaway County. Elated from the successful defense, citizens proclaimed their county The Kingdom of Callaway, a reference that remains today.

The early residents of Fulton, incorporated as a city on March 14, 1859, came from a predominately southern culture. The coastal and upland southerners that settled on the land brought with them slaves and established an agricultural economy. This connection with southern heritage was no better shown than in 1875 when Jefferson Davis, former president of the Confederate States of America, came to Fulton to give a speech. More than 10,000 people showed up to hear Davis talk at the old fairgrounds, now Westiminster College’s Priest Field.

When the first history of Callaway County was compiled in 1884, the die had already been cast as far as the type of community Fulton was to be. The Missouri General Assembly had voted to establish an asylum for the insane in Fulton (February 26, 1847), the first mental health facility west of the Mississippi the General Assembly agreed (February 28, 1851) to establish a school for the education of the deaf in Fulton in 1842 the Presbyterian Church had opened a female seminary later known as Synodical College in the fall of 1851 the Church established the all-male Fulton College, now known as Westminster College and Fulton was the seat of county government.

The Christian Church moved their Orphan School to Fulton in 1890. Whether or not they were influenced by the already existing colleges is not known, but Fulton’s bid of $40,000 and the offer of ten acres of land was surely a factor. This school, which had previously been located at Camden Point, Missouri, later became William Woods University.

The Fulton area owns national acclaim thanks to a novel written by Fulton native Henry Bellamann. Henry Bellamann was born in Fulton in 1882. He was raised and attended college here. Fulton is said to have been Bellamann’s model for the fictional town of the novel Kings Row. “King’s Row” generated questions about the resemblance it had to individuals and situations around the area. In 1940, producers created a movie based on the book. The cast included Ann Sheridan, Robert Cummings, Ronald Reagan and Betty Field (the actual suit worn by Ronald Reagan, is on display at the Kingdom of Callaway Chamber of Commerce).

Residents of the Kingdom of Callaway credit the colleges and institutions for the cultural enrichment which they appreciate. History molds much of the diversity. Yet, exciting times await performing and visual arts. Sir Winston Churchill’s speech set the pace that continues to target Westminster College as a history trend setter.

The internationally known Winston Churchill Memorial and Library in the United States invites visitors to investigate this noted statesman and his famous Iron Curtain speech. The 1946 address built a legacy enticing such world leaders as Lech Walesa, Margaret Thatcher, Harry S. Truman, Gerald R. Ford, Ronald W. Reagan, George W. Bush, Mikhail Gorbachev and NATO representatives to Westminster College.

With the removal of the Berlin Wall, Churchill’s granddaughter acquired a section of it to create a sculpture, entitled “Break Through” to commemorate the Iron Curtain speech. Visitors view it on the quadrangle at Westminster College. The Memorial includes the Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Aldermanbury. With the utmost attention to detail craftsmen, dismantled this magnificent structure in London, England and rebuilt it on Westminster campus to revere the Sir Winston Churchill visit. Today, this architectural masterpiece provides an impressive setting for worship services, weddings and special celebrations.

In 1979, the Enid and Crosby Kemper Foundation of Kansas City, Missouri established the Crosby Kemper Lectureship. Lectures encompassing a variety of topics generally delivered by notables from throughout the world add unique roots to the cultural attractions. Through the misfortune of a fire William Woods University lost its arts building.

In 1996 an electrical fire destroyed the arts building, facilitating the construction of the Gladys Woods Kemper Center for the Arts. This center replaced the art building and links the art gallery and Dulany Auditorium. The complex offers institution and performance opportunities to enhance the existing learning environment and contribute a broader cultural dimension for students, the community and visitors.

Museums and displays depict beginnings in the Kingdom of Callaway. The Fishback Museum spotlights history of the Missouri School for the Deaf. The Kingdom Expo and Antique Car Museum emphasizes transitions in transportation. Photos, genealogy research and history books headline the exhibit at the Historical Society. In addition, the Kingdom of Callaway Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center features a display of “King’s Row” memorabilia.

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About Robert Fulton, Jr.

Robert Fulton November 14, 1765 – February 24, 1815

Parents: Robert Fulton and Mary Smith

Wife Harriet Livingston

Children: Birth order unknown

Robert Fulton was an American engineer and inventor who is widely credited with developing the first commercially successful steamboat. In 1800 he was commissioned by Napoleon Bonaparte to design the Nautilus, which was the first practical submarine in history.

Fulton became interested in steamboats in 1777 when he visited Col. William Henry of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, who had earlier learned about James Watt's steam engine on a visit to England. Robert Fulton died from exposure in 1815.

Robert Fulton

​Wh en Robert Fulton, Sr. & his wife Mary (Smith) Fulton settled in Little Britain Township after emigrating from Ireland their dreams were of building a family and a prosperous farm. Eventually they would have five children, Robert Jr., Isabella, Elizabeth, Mary and Abraham. Their dreams of a successful farm, however, were not to be and they relocated to Lancaster City several years later.

In 1844 a new township was formed from a portion of Little Britain Township. The Fulton homstead was included & the new township was named Fulton Township.

From an early age son Robert showed an aptitude for engineering & mechanics. He would visit various businesses throughout the area studying their processes & techniques. By the time he was 13 he was already building paddle wheels for his father&rsquos fishing boats. His fascination with mercury, guns & bullets earned him the nickname &ldquoQuicksilver Bob&rdquo

Fulton received little formal education, instead choosing to self-educate in the areas where he had the most interest. This would also include art. An accomplished painter, he relocated at age 17 to Philadelphia, where he gained notoriety as a painter of miniatures.

Six years later, Fulton moved to Europe where he would turn back to his first love. His interests would take him to Paris where he built the first successful submarine or diving boat. It stayed under 25 feet of water for 17 minutes. He named the submarine Nautilus. In 1870, writer Jules Verne in a tip-of-the-hat to Fulton named the submarine in his classic novel, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Nautilus.

Robert Fulton would eventually partner with Robert Livingston who was the U.S. Ambassador to France, to build a steamboat. Experimentation by many inventors had some early successes, but no one had been able to produce a commercially successful product. Their partnership did produce a boat that ran, but not for long and it sank.

Reteaming with Robert Livingston, Fulton went back to work on his steamboat. By 1807 the North River Steamboat was fully operating and carried the mantel of &ldquofirst commercial steamboat&rdquo. Later it would be renamed and today is known as the Clermont.

In 1815 Robert Fulton developed pneumonia after a friend fell through ice & Fulton attempted to rescue him. He died at 49 years old in New York, New York leaving behind a wife (the niece of his partner Livingston) and 4 children.

A beloved figure his funeral remains, to this day, one of the largest in New York history. A statue of Robert Fulton given by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, sits in the National Statuary Hall in Washington DC. The majority of his paintings that still exist are owned by the Pennsylvania Historical Society.

His final invention, built for U.S. use in the War of 1812 was a &ldquosteam driven warship&rdquo named Demologos. The ship, which was not finished until after he died, would be renamed The Fulton.

Back in England, Fulton developed naval weapons for the Royal Navy in their war with Napoleon including the first odern naval torpedoes. His inventions were met with limited success & he made the decision to return to the United States.

Fulton, Robert - History

Robert Fulton Birthplace
1932 Fulton Highway
Quarryville, PA 17566
(717) 548-2679
Official Website

Robert Fulton is undoubtedly most famous for having built the steamboat Clermont, which successfully navigated the Hudson against winds and current in 1807. This versatile inventor, however, was also an accomplished artist. Among his most famous works are miniature portraits of prominent Philadelphians, including Benjamin Franklin, with whom Fulton associated.

The beautiful stone house where Fulton was born in 1765 was destroyed by fire in 1822. It has since been restored to its original appearance. Visitors can tour the house and see what life was like in the mid-18th century. Many of Fulton's activities are recounted here. The busy artist-inventor traveled much of Europe and was involved in a wide variety of projects, including inventing various tools, and working with the U.S. Nay to develop a torpedo -- he actually blew up a brig in New York Harbor as a demonstration. He also designed the world's first steam-powered warship. It was launched after Fulton's death in 1815.

Throughout the year the Southern Lancaster Historical Society -- operator of the Fulton Birthplace -- conducts a number of special events, fairs, youth projects, family educational programs, and other activities for members.

Groups, as well as families, can enjoy an educational tour of the house. School Groups of just about any age will benefit from the history to be found here. Groups should have 10 or more people.

Copyright © 1996-2014 by Patrick Tadeushuk. All Rights Reserved.

Watch the video: The Childrens Book of American Biography Robert Fulton