Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Robert Fulton steamboat anniversary; Clermont

While the MSM/DNC spent the past few weeks memorializing the Katrina tragedy, another, more important, anniversary went almost unnoticed.

200 years ago last month [August 17, 1807], Robert Fulton began the maiden voyage of the Clermont up the Hudson river. This voyage has been recognized as the first successful test run of a steamship. [Others, including Fulton, had tested steamships before, but those tests were not entirely successful.] [The unreliable Wikipedia contends that the Clermont was not the actual name of Fulton's steamship, but that name stuck through the years.]

Clermont - H/T Gutenburg. org

On September 4, 1807, Fulton began the first commercial voyage of any steamship in history. Charging $7.00 per passenger, Fulton made a profit on that first journey. It was that voyage that proved that steamships could be a commercial success. Fulton's work revolutionized transportation. Before long, Fulton was operating ships on the Hudson as well as the Ohio and Mississippi rivers.

Fulton's activities produced a few ironies:

  • The first Fulton steamship to sail the Mississippi was named the New Orleans.
  • Fulton's attempts to build and operate steamships on the Ohio and Mississippi met with interference from floods and earthquakes - yet no one claimed that global warming was about to destroy the planet.
  • Fulton also attempted to invent a submarine. He believed that the introduction of the submarine would make naval warfare difficult and would be an instrument of peace. Apparantly, Fulton did not get the MSM/DNC memo that disarmament is the only way to achieve peace. While Fulton's submarine was not successful and while later submarines did not have the effect of ending war, the submarine did vastly reduce the old method of fighting wars on the surface of the water.
  • More progress in steam transportation had been made in the 20 years prior to Clermont's maiden voyage than in the multiple centuries since steam power was first discovered in the ancient world - thus demonstrating the value of the capitalist system.

Fulton's invention came only after much trial and error and many failures (Fulton's failures and those of his predecessors). Fulton learned the difficulty in conquering the water with man made steam power. But apparently today's political establishment has not learned the difficulty or foolishness of trying to construct and preserve an underwater city.

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