Who was John Fitch?

   John Fitch (1743-1798) was an Ameri­can inventor and metal craftsman, was born on a farm in Hartford Co., Connecticut. Fitch left home at the age of 15 and spent several years as an itinerant laborer. His early business ventures, which included the management of a brass-smith shop in East Windsor, Conn., and a silversmith shop in Trenton, N.J., were not successful. During the Revolutionary War he served in the
   Continental army for a short time. Before the war was over. he quit the army to manage an arms factory in Trenton and then became involved in land speculation in the Northwest Territory.
   During the final 13 years of his life Fitch was interested in the invention and development of the steamboat. Fitch's first steamboat was launched on the Delaware River near Philadelphia on Aug. 22, 1787. Two additional steamboats were soon constructed. However, when a fourth vessel was destroyed by a storm in 1791, Fitch's backers withdrew their financial support, even though both a United States and a French patent had been acquired. Unable to make a commercial success of the steamboat, Fitch retired to his land claims near Bardstown, Ky., in 1796.