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Steamboats of the 1800's

Thomas Jefferson

Steamboats of the 1800's: Thomas Jefferson was the 3rd American President who served in office from March 4, 1801 to March 4, 1809. This was the era of the Industrial revolution and the steamboats.

Steamboats of the 1800s: John Fitch
The idea of using steam power to propel boats occurred to inventors soon after James Watt patented an improved version of the steam engine in 1769.
John Fitch (1743-1798) was granted a United States patent for a steamboat on August 26, 1791. His first steamboats demonstrated the viability of using steam for water locomotion and made way for the Steamboats of the 1800s. Also refer to Railroads in the 1800s

Steamboats of the 1800s: Robert Fulton, "Father of Steam Navigation"
Robert Fulton (1765-1815) built his first steamboat after the death of John Fitch, and it was Robert Fulton who became known as the "Father of steam navigation."

Steamboats of the 1800s: Definition
Definition:  Steamboats were water vessels that were propelled by steam.

Steamboats of the 1800s for kids: Flatboats
The forerunners to the Steamboats of the 1800s were the flatboats. The flatboats, or 'flats' were important forms of transportation for the new nation carrying produce to markets and occasionally transporting passengers.
The cargo transported on flatboats included corn, furs, flour, fruit, whiskey, and vegetable and pork. Passengers were taken on flatboats with tent-like coverings for shelter. They were slow and uncomfortable. When they reached their destination the flat boatmen dismantled their 'flat', sold it for lumber and often the crew would walk home.

Steamboats of the 1800s for kids
The Steamboats of the 1800s started to appear on western rivers in 1807.
The picture of the steamboats reflect this Important form of transportation in the United States in the 1800's. The invention of steam power made it much easier to travel along the rivers. The steamboats had a steam engine which turned a paddle wheel in back of the boats. Some steamboats had two paddle wheels on each side of the steamboat which could then reach even greater speeds. These paddle wheels powered the steamboats both up and down river. Steamboats could go downstream twice as fast as the flatboats that they replaced. Steam boats could also go upstream, which was a Important improvement over the flatboats.

The Steamboats of the 1800s for kids
The steamboats could travel at the astounding speed of up to 5 miles per hour. Steamboats quickly revolutionized river travel and trade, and dominated the waterways of the expanding areas of the United States in the south with rivers such as the Mississippi, Alabama, Apalachicola and Chattahoochee.

The Steamboats of the 1800s
The steam boats of the 1800s captured the imagination of the American people. They enabled relatively fast and comfortable travel across the rivers and waterways of the US - also refer to Erie Canal. There were dangers to traveling by the steamboats. Some sank, there were boiler explosions and fires. Some steam boats were attacked by Native American Indians.

Steamboats of the 1800s for kids: The Romance of the Steamboats
People were captivated by the Steamboats of the 1800s. They were new, and exciting and there were occasionally steamboat races. However it was the Showboats that really captured the imagination of the public - but they were not steamboats. Showboats were pushed by a small tugboat! A steam engine would needed to have been placed right in the auditorium, where fabulous shows were performed.

Steamboats of the 1800s for kids: The General Survey Act
The 1824 General Survey Act was a law passed by the United States Congress in April 1824 that was extremely important to the maintenance of the rivers in America. The General Survey Act authorized the president to have surveys made of important transportation routes.  The law specified that surveys were made by the Corps of Engineers for routes requiring roads and canals "of national importance, in a commercial or military point of view, or necessary for the transportation of public mail." The General Survey Act, and the mission of the Corps of Engineers, was defined further by the 1824 Navigation Act that appropriated $75000 to improve navigation on the Ohio and Mississippi rivers and the 1826 Rivers and Harbors Act that authorized further surveys and construction projects.

US American History
1801-1828: Evolution Era
Inventions & Inventors Timeline

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