The first good steamboat was built in New York. She was built by Robert Fulton. Her name was ” Clermont.” When the people saw her, they laughed. They said that such a boat would never go. For thousands of years boatmen had made their boats go by using sails and oars. People had never seen any such boat as this. It seemed foolish to believe that a boat could be pushed along by steam.
The time came for Fulton to start his boat. A crowd of people were standing on the shore. The black smoke was coming out of the smokestack. The people were laughing at the boat. They were sure that it would not go. At last the boat’s wheels began to turn round. Then the boat began to move. There were no oars. There were no sails. But still the boat kept moving.
Faster and faster she went. All the people now saw that she could go by steam. They did not laugh any more. They began to cheer. The little steamboat ran up to Albany. The people who lived on the river did not know what to make of it. They had never heard of a steamboat. They could not see what made the boat go. There were many sailing vessels on the river. Fulton’s boat passed some of these in the night.
The sailors were afraid when they saw the fire and smoke. The sound of the steam seemed dreadful to them. Some of them went down-stairs in their ships for fear. Some of them went ashore. Perhaps they thought it was a living animal that would eat them up. But soon there were steamboats on all the large rivers.
Fulton was a brilliant man who died when he was 41 years old while rescuing a friend who had fallen through ice into a river. He died of pneumonia/consumption contracted after the icy rescue.
SOURCE: Stories of Great Americans for Little Americans By Samuel Eggleston American Book Co 1893 Digitized by Google Available for free download from Google Books
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