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

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

by Jack L. Shagena
Pub. Date:
Prometheus Books


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

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781591022060
Publisher: Prometheus Books
Publication date: 04/15/2004
Pages: 441
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.10(d)

About 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.

Table of Contents

Part 1.Perspective and Background
1.The Significance of the Steamboat21
Why in America?29
2.The Invention, the Inventor, and Society39
About Invention47
A Brief History of Patent Protection50
Why Does Invention Happen?54
Patents Today58
Society and Invention59
3.The Steamboat as a System69
Introduction to Systems Engineering73
The Real-World Systems Engineering Process78
Development Capital90
4.Early Steamboat Experimenters93
A Precursor of Steam Power94
A Plan by Papin, 169095
The Pumping Engine of Savery, 169896
The Newcomen Engine, 171297
The Patent by Hulls, 173697
A Proposal from Bernoulli, 175399
Watt's Separate Condenser, 177499
The Failed Steamboat of D'Auxiron, 1774100
The First Successful Steamboat, by De Jouffroy, 1783101
The Triple Hulls of Miller, 1786102
Paddle Wheels and a Poet, 1788102
Lord Dundas and the Charlotte Dundas, 1802103
Summary of the Early Steamboat Pioneers103
On to America104
Looking Ahead108
Part 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
Part 3.Conclusion and Afterthoughts
13.The Steamboat Inventor391
Other Contributors392
Inventor of the Steamboat396
The Contributors Reviewed399
OK, So Who Really Invented the Steamboat?404
Epilogue: Giving Everyone His Due413
A.Rumsey's Water Jet Steamboat Explained417
B.Minimum Horsepower to Weight Examined423

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