Who Really Invented the Steamboat?: Fulton's Clermont Coup

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Overview

Contrary to accounts found in school textbooks, Robert Fulton did not invent the steamboat. This is the first work to chronicle the entire story of the steamboat and to place Fulton’s contribution in perspective. Jack L. Shagena, a retired professional engineer, clarifies the nature of invention, examines various individuals who contributed to the steamboat’s development, and identifies a more credible candidate for the title of its inventor. He also shows how the Fulton myth evolved.

How could authoritative sources like school textbooks be wrong for almost two hundred years? Shagena skillfully lays out the evidence, unraveling the complex factors that have led to past confusion. He makes the important point that historians have erred in describing the development of steam navigation in terms of a biography of one person’s work.

By contrast, Shagena, from a scientific and engineering perspective, examines the entire spectrum of the achievements by many individuals in the science, technology, invention, product development, and marketing of steamboat travel. Within this framework, he considers the work of William Henry, James Rumsey, John Fitch, Oliver Evans, Samuel Morey, Robert Fulton, John Stevens and others, arriving at the most creditable candidate for the title of "inventor of the steamboat."

This well-researched, entertaining, and enlightening contribution to the history of science is important reading for students of history, science, technology, engineering, and development.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781591022060
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books
  • Publication date: 4/15/2004
  • Pages: 441
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Jack L. Shagena, P.E., now retired, spent thirty-four years with the Bendix/AlliedSignal Corporations. He has also served as a member and chair of the Chesapeake City Historic District Commission and is the author of Brief History & Walking Tour of Historic Chesapeake City.
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Table of Contents

Pt. 1 Perspective and background
1 The significance of the steamboat 21
2 The invention, the inventor, and society 39
3 The steamboat as a system 69
4 Early steamboat experimenters 93
Pt. 2 The candidates considered
5 William Henry (1729-1786) 113
6 James Rumsey (1743-1792) 125
7 John Fitch (1743-1798) 171
8 Oliver Evans (1755-1819) 209
9 Nathan Read (1759-1849) 245
10 Samuel Morey (1762-1843) 261
11 Robert Fulton (1765-1815) 281
12 John Stevens (1749-1838) 343
Pt. 3 Conclusion and afterthoughts
13 The steamboat inventor 391
Epilogue : giving everyone his due 413
App. A Rumsey's water jet steamboat explained 417
App. B Minimum horsepower to weight examined 423
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