Robert Fulton (1765-1815)

   It was the 17th of August, 1807. A crowd stood along the banks of the Hudson waiting for a boat to start up the river. The boat was the "Clermont." It had a steam engine instead of sails to make it go. Robert Fulton had planned it and had it built. No one expected it to work. Fulton heard such mocking shouts as "Bring us back a chip of the North Pole." To the crowd's surprise, the boat kept right on its way. Hats began to sail into the air and there were many cheers. The steamboat was a success.
   Fulton was born in Pennsylvania. As a boy he was interested in drawing. By the time he was 21, he was making a living by painting portraits. Then he decided to go to England to study with the famous painter Benjamin West.
   Through West he met many interesting people. Some of them were interested in boats. Fulton became interested, too. At first he was most interested in submarines. Later he became interested in steamboats. He built one and tried it out near Paris. It was a failure. He built another and tried it out. This one was not a success either.
   Fulton then went back to America and built the "Clermont." Because it was the first really successful steamboat, Fulton is generally called the inventor of the steamboat.