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rival at New York of Mr. Fulton, which was not until 1806, they immediately engaged in building a boat of what was then considered very considerable dimensions. This boat began to navigate the Hudson River in September, 1807; its progress through the water was at the rate of five miles an hour. In the course of the ensuing winter it was enlarged to a boat of one hundred and forty feet keel, and sixteen and a half feet beam. The legislature of the State were so fully convinced of the great utility of the invention, and the interest the State had in its encouragement, that they made a new contract with Mr. Livingston and Mr. Fulton, by which they extended the term of their exclusive right five years for every additional boat they should build, provided that the whole term should not exceed thirty years, in consequence of which they have added two boats to the North River boat (besides those that have been built by others under their license), the Car of Neptune, which is a beautiful vessel of about three hundred tons burthen, and the Paragon, of three hundred and fifty tons, a drawing of which is sent you herewith, together with a description of her interior arrangements.
It will appear, sir, from the above history of steamboats, that the first development of the principles and combinations upon which their success was founded was discovered by Mr. Fulton in the year 1803, and grew out of a variety of experiments made by him and Mr. Livingston for that purpose, at Paris, about that period; and that the first steamboat that was ever in this or any other country put into useful operation (if we except the imperfect trial of Fitch) was built upon those principles by Mr. Livingston and Mr. Fulton, at New York, in 1807. From these periods the invention of the art may be
dated. I will not trouble you with an explanation of these principles; they are now so.clearly developed in his patents, and rendered so obvious by being publicly reduced to practice, that any experienced mechanic may, by a recourse to them, build a steamboat. What has hitherto been a stumbling-block to the ablest mechanicians of the old and new world is now become so obvious and familiar to all that they look back with astonishment upon their own failures, and lament the time they have been deprived of this useful invention. Had it not been for a fortunate occurrence of circumstances, it is highly probable that another century would have elapsed before it had been introduced. Past failures operated as a discouragement
to new trials; the great expense that attended experiments upon the only scale on which it could succeed would have deterred any but men of property from engaging in the enterprise; and how few of these are there in any country that choose to risk much in projects, and upon such especially as have repeatedly proved unfortunate? Add to this that without special encouragement from the government, and a perfect security of their rights, in case of the success of so expensive and hazardous an enterprise, it could not have been expected that any individuals would have embarked their time, their fame, and their fortunes in it. In the present instance, happily for our country, mechanical talents and property united with the enthusiasm of projectors in the enterprise, and the enlightened policy of this State afforded it a liberal patronage. Under these circumstances a new art has happily, and honorably for this country, been brought into existence. Speed, convenience, and ease have been introduced into our system of travelling, which the world has never before experienced, and the projectors, stimulated by the public patronage and the pride of success, have spared no expense that can contribute to the ease and safety of travellers. Their boats are furnished with every accommodation that can be found in the best hotels. Every new boat is an improvement upon the one that preceded, until they have obtained a degree of perfection which leaves us nothing to wish but that the public, duly impressed with the advantage they have received from their labors, may cheerfully bestow on them the honor and profit to which the boldness of their enterprise and the liberal manner in which it has been executed so justly entitle them.
A FRIEND TO SCIENCE.
ROBERT FULTON TO AARON OGDEN (1814) ON THE INVENTION
OF THE STEAMBOAT.
Sir,- Studiously occupied on a new invention which presents a prospect of great national utility, and relying on the dignified integrity of a legislature distinguished for the patronage and patriotism it gives to useful improvements, I have not attended at Albany to guard from your address and industry the rights granted to Livingston and Fulton, and which I hope every upright and liberal mind will acknowledge they have faithfully and honorably earned.
But by letters received from Albany I am informed that in your address to the committee, among other things attempting to prove that I am not the inventor of steamboats, you exhibited Charnock's work on naval architecture to show that I have quoted him in my patent; and thereby you endeavored to make an impression that I had patented the experiments on the resistance of bodies moving through water as my own. If, sir, you have done so before the honorable committee, and they and the audience know it, then you have done it knowing it to be false; for you made a like attempt before a committee at Trenton in February last, at which time I presented to you and the committee the drawing from my patent and quotations from said work, at the bottom of which I gave the author credit for the information I received in the following words: "This table of the resistance of bodies moved through water is taken from experiments made in England by a society for the encouragement of naval architecture between the years 1793 and 1798." This fact you knew at Trenton, and there acknowledged that I had not attempted to patent the experiments of others, but only used them as a means for demonstrating principles. Hence, if at Albany you have impressed the committee with a belief that I could be so base as to pirate the labors of others, and present them to my liberal countrymen as my own, you have done an unjust and ungenerous deed, which would make the cheek of rigid honor blush. I say, if you have done so,- for I place it on the conjunction if,— you have departed from that noble candor, that respect for truth, which marks the moral man and man of honor; and you have attempted to destroy my character for honesty by depicting me as guilty of perjury, for in obtaining my patent I swore that I believed myself the original discoverer and inventor of the thing patented. To a man who loves his country, and whose greatest pleasure is to merit the esteem of his countrymen, this is too serious a charge to remain without refutation.
That a patent may be taken according to law, it must be so explained that a person skilled in an art which most resembles it could, from the specification, drawings, or models, make the machine. Therefore I drew from those tables such conclusions as, in my opinion, would show to other persons how the calculations should be made to ascertain as near as possible the resistance of any given boat while running from one to six
or more miles an hour, and from her resistance also show what should be the power of the steam-engine to drive her the required velocity, then show what should be the size of the wheel-boards, which take the purchase on the water, and their speed compared to the speed of the boat, all of which were necessary to be ascertained, selected, and combined before any one could originate a useful steamboat; and it was for want of such selection and just combination of first principles, founded on the laws of nature, that every attempt at constructing useful steamboats previous to mine failed. But, now that they are discovered and carried into practice on the great scale, you and Mr. Dodd can copy them, and have copied them exact. This is proved by the affidavits of many experienced and respectable engineers, and will be acknowledged by every one who has the least information on mechanical combinations; yet neither you nor Mr. Dodd, possessed as you are of Charnock's book, now know the principles which originated and govern the construction of steamboats, nor can you find them in that book or any other.
But, as you have looked much into books, models, and abortive experiments to prove steamboats an old invention, can you show any publication, model, or work that distinctly points out what the power of the engine must be to drive the boat the required velocity? or any work that distinctly shows the best mode for taking the purchase on the water, whether by oars, paddles, shulls, endless chains, ducks' feet, valves, or wheels? or what should be the size of the paddle-boards and their velocity? No, sir, you cannot. These indispensable first principles are nowhere to be found except in my patent. They are the discovery, the invention, which caused success. Previous to my experiments all was doubt and conjecture. No one could tell the requisite power of the engine, no one had determined the best mode for taking the purchase on the water or the powers and velocities of the component parts. If they had, why did you not avail yourself of them, and construct a useful steamboat ten years ago? If those proportions and powers, which are now demonstrated by actual practice in my boats on the great scale, and where every intelligent blacksmith and carpenter can go and measure them, copy them, and make a successful steamboat, were formerly known, how is it that Mr. Stevens, Chancellor Livingston, Mr. Rumsey, Mr. Fitch, Lord Stanhope, and Oliver Evans could not find them in
twenty years' labor and at the expense of $100,000? Why were not steamboats made ten years ago? for Charnock's book has been published fifteen years. And here let me present to you a curious fact: the experiments in that book were in great part conducted by Lord Stanhope, who himself since failed in his experiments on steamboats; and, if you have not yet so far affected my character for truth that my countrymen will cease to believe me, I will state another fact: he (Lord Stanhope) in October, 1806, told me in London that I could not construct a successful steamboat on the principles and combinations I proposed and which I now practise with complete success. Consequently, that book does not show how to construct a steamboat any more than the multiplication table shows how to calculate an eclipse; yet the multiplication table is useful to those who know how to apply it to that purpose. But, now that I have succeeded, contrary to all public belief, though, as you say, without the merit of invention, you collect a basket of scraps, conjectures, and abortive essays, out of which, by a kind of magical sophistry, you attempt to place before a discerning committee a successful steamboat of some twenty years old. Suppose you were to collect a basket of old ballads and bad verse without ideas, but rhyming and containing the twenty-four letters of the alphabet, could you not from those parts used by Pope prove that he did not conceive or invent the Dunciad or Essay on Man and Criticism? Or, could you or Mr. Dodd have got his manuscript and put the strokes on his t's, might you not insist that you had made an important improvement, then print and sell the poems as your own? for such is exactly the kind of improvements you and Mr. Dodd have made on steamboats. But there is not so much to be made by such improvements on poetry as by moving parallel links from one part of a steam-engine to another: hence avarice suffers poets, particularly bad ones, to be tranquil, nor does it interfere with unsuccessful mechanicians. It is only the successful artists they who really benefit their country --that are fit subjects for plunder. Cupidity never encroached on Fitch or Rumsey or on Lord Stanhope. fortunate as to succeed and exhibit profits. quillity to me in 1807 and 1808. In those nent success was not fully established nor the profits visible, but in 1809 they were. Then envy and avarice combined to destroy the inventor. Yet with these facts, known to every
They were not so It even left tranyears the perma