Daniel Alef has written many legal articles, one law book, one historical anthology, Centennial Stories, and authored the award-winning historical novel, Pale Truth (MaxIt Publishing, 2000). Foreword Magazine named Pale Truth book of the year for general fiction in 2001 and the novel received many outstanding reviews including ones from Publishers Weekly and the American Library Association's Booklist. A sequel to Pale Truth, currently entitled Measured Swords, has just been completed.
Robert Fulton: Savant of Steamboats and Submarinesby Daniel Alef
Robert Fulton is widely recognized as the inventor of the first practical steamboat. However, there is much more to the story of one of America's greatest inventors. He was a world-class painter who studied under Benjamin West, known in England as "the American Raphael." He also invented the first practical submarine, one he named the Nautilus, offering it first to… See more details below
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Robert Fulton is widely recognized as the inventor of the first practical steamboat. However, there is much more to the story of one of America's greatest inventors. He was a world-class painter who studied under Benjamin West, known in England as "the American Raphael." He also invented the first practical submarine, one he named the Nautilus, offering it first to Napoleon Bonaparte and subsequently to the British. And Fulton invented the first "torpedo," a term he coined for what was essentially an explosive underwater mine. Britain, with the world's largest navy, had qualms about such warfare and offered Fulton a significant amount of money to shelve his inventions. Fulton declined; he wanted his submarine technology to be available for the U.S. in event of war. Working with wealthy Robert Livingston, New York's first chancellor and the man who administered the oath of office to George Washington, Fulton built the Clermont, the steamboat that revolutionized the world of transportation. Award-winning author Daniel Alef tells Fulton's story of achievement and success. [1,408-word Titans of Fortune article]
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Alexander Graham Bell did not invent the telephone, Antonio Meucci did; Thomas A. Edison did not invent the phonograph as we know it, Emile Berliner did; and Robert Fulton did not invent the steamboat, a score of inventors preceded him. But Fulton conceived and built the first efficient and profitable steamboat, and heralded a new age of transportation.
Fulton was born in 1765 in New Britain (now Fulton), Pennsylvania. His father died when he was 3. Growing up, Fulton enjoyed drawing and spending time with gunsmiths more than he did reading books. His teachers were not impressed; they thought he was dull. He was not; he just had a mind of his own. When one teacher rapped his knuckles with a ruler for being inattentive, Fulton said: "Sir, I came here to have something beaten into my head and not into my hand."
His ingenuity manifested itself early. When the community ran short of candles for Fourth of July festivities, Fulton astonished revelers by firing exploding rockets he had fashioned into the night sky and lighting up the town.
At 17, Fulton moved to Philadelphia to pursue a career in art; he painted portraits and miniatures to earn a living. Benjamin Franklin took notice of his work and suggested that he could become a greater painter by studying abroad. Franklin provided Fulton with a letter of recommendation to Benjamin West, a painter to the court of George III, founder of the Royal Academy, and known in London as the "American Raphael."
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