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A History of the Growth of the Steam-Engine

Fulton had already written to Boulton Watt


August

9, 1803, this boat was cast loose, and steamed up the Seine, in presence of an immense concourse of spectators. A committee of the National Academy, consisting of Bougainville, Bossuet, Carnot, and Perier, were present to witness the experiment. The boat moved but slowly, making only between 3 and 4 miles an hour against the current, the speed through the water being about 4-1/2 miles; but this was, all things considered, a great success.

The experiment was successful, but it attracted little attention, notwithstanding the fact that its success had been witnessed by the committee of the Academy and by many well-known savants and mechanics, and by officers on Napoleon's staff. The boat remained a long time on the Seine, near the palace. The water-tube boiler of this vessel (Fig. 79) is still preserved at the Conservatoire des Arts et Metiers at Paris, where it is known as Barlow's boiler. Barlow patented it in France as early as 1793, as a steamboat-boiler, and states that the object of his construction was to obtain the greatest possible extent of heating-surface.

Fulton endeavored to secure the pecuniary aid and the countenance of the First Consul, but in vain.

Livingston wrote home, describing the trial of this steamboat and its results, and procured the passage of an act by the Legislature of the State of New York, extending a monopoly granted him in 1798 for the term of

20 years from April 5, 1803, the date of the new law, and extending the time allowed for proving the practicability of driving a boat four miles an hour by steam to two years from the same date. A later act further extended the time to April, 1807.

[Illustration: FIG. 79.--Barlow's Water-Tube Boiler, 1793.]

In May, 1804, Fulton went to England, giving up all hope of success in France with either his steamboats or his torpedoes. Fulton had already written to Boulton & Watt, ordering an engine to be built from plans which he furnished them; but he had not informed them of the purpose to which it was to be applied. This engine was to have a steam-cylinder 2 feet in diameter and of 4 feet stroke. The engine of the Charlotte Dundas was of very nearly the same size; and this fact, and the visit of Fulton to Symmington in 1801, as described by the latter, have been made the basis of a claim that Fulton was a copyist of the plans of others. The general accordance of the dimensions of his boat on the Seine with those of the "Polacca" of Roosevelt is also made the basis of similar claims by the friends of the latter. It would appear, however, that Symmington's statement is incorrect, as Fulton was in France, experimenting with torpedoes, at the time (July, 1801[79]) when he is accused of having obtained from the English engineer the dimensions and a statement of the performance of his vessel. Yet a fireman employed by Symmington has made an affidavit to the same statement. It is evident, however, from what has preceded, that those inventors and builders who were at that time working with the object of introducing the steamboat were usually well acquainted with what had been done by others, and with what was being done by their contemporaries; and it is undoubtedly the fact that each profited, so far as he was able, by the experience of others.

[79] Woodcroft, p. 64.

While in England, however, Fulton was certainly not so entirely absorbed in the torpedo experiments with which he was occupied in the years 1804-'6 as to forget his plans for a steamboat; and he saw the engine ordered by him in 1804 completed in the latter year, and preceded it to New York, sailing from Falmouth in October, 1806, and reaching the United States December 13, 1806.


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