Known for developing the first commercially successful steamboat with the help of business partner Robert Livingston, Robert Fulton began his life as an author and later turned his focus to engineering. He married the niece of his steamboat business partner, Harriet Livingston.
His last major undertaking was the world’s first steam-powered warship. The “Demologos” was 300 feet long, 200 feet wide, 120-horsepower, and double-hulled. Although Fulton earned his last patents for this ship in 1813, the U.S. Navy let the project lie fallow after the War of 1812 ended in 1814.”
In 1816, the Fulton Steamship (and Fulton steam engine) was on full display in an inaugural launch at what would be the tidal basin in Washington for the July 4 celebrations. Virginia’s Senator General Armistead Mason was surely in attendance as he supported Fulton’s widow’s request for compensation stemming from the government’s use of her late husband’s patents. Learn more here