« 上一頁繼續 »
Tonnage of the six largest districts in this year :--
TONS AND 95THS. New York . . 430,300.88 Philadelphia 96,862.09 Boston . . 203,615.82 . New Bedford . 86,524.75 New Orleans . 109,076.36 Baltimore. . 71,533.14
Included in this estimate is a large amount of steam shipping, that traverse the inland seas and rivers of the Republic, developing its resources, and uniting its population in one large and universal family,— facilitating trade, in the speedy and certain conveyance of the products of the soil,—the industry and labour of the inland settler, and affording a ready interchange of the luxuries, as well the necessaries, of life. To no nation has steam power extended the same measure of good, -of important and signal benefits, as to the United States; and certainly none have taken more ready advantage of its beneficial and weighty aid, in the steady promotion of every improvement, and the rapid advance which the nation has made, since the period of its first introduction, in comparative wealth, in intelligence and civilization.
To whatever country the honour of the first and earliest discovery of steam power is due, its first practical application to the use of steam navigation, we apprehend, must be conceded to the United States. The idea of applying steam to boats had been suggested in England as early as 1736, by one Jonathan Hulls. Rumsey is said to have made experiments on a small scale, as to steamboats, in Virginia, in 1787, but they were not reduced to any
NAVIGATION IN AMERCIA.
practical use. Both he and Fitch, a poor and illiterate watchmaker of Philadelphia, are declared by American writers to have commenced trials in that country as early as 1783 and 1784,* and Oliver
* The biography of Fitch, lately published in the United States, represents him as an American citizen, whose name, though at present but little known to his countrymen, is destined at no distant day to assume a high rank among the benefactors of the age, –and goes on to state of this remarkable man, that He “ was born in Connecticut, was a watchmaker in Trenton, a soldier of the revolutionary war, a surveyor of public lands in the West, a poor, hard-working, ingenious man, whom all considered, as men of genius are considered, visionary. In 1785 he made a model of a steamboat with perfect steam machinery. He tried wheels at first, but they were badly constructed, and he substituted paddles, which worked rather better, and then he regarded his model, examined his empty pockets, and saw before him, in visions of hope, the great results which hereafter would grow out of steam navigation. He petitioned the Continental Congress for aid. They had no money to give to such experiments. He begged the legislature of Pennsylvania to assist him, without effect. He talked to the Western members of Congress of the great waters of the Mississippi and the lakes covered by steamboats, and conveying the produce of that section of the Union to the ocean, but they considered it chimerical and wild. He wrote to Dr. Franklin, and boldly contended that the sea would be navigated by steam hereafter, and earnestly implored co-operation and aid ; but when a man strikes at something bold and high, promising new and extraordinary results, talked of immense revolutions in trade, immense expedition in travelling by a new process, the old and long standing impression of weak and visionary projects met him at every turn, and finally his condition was hopeless. At length he drew and engraved a map of the North-western territory of the United States, and struck off the sheets on a cider press, and by this he made $800. and
Evans in 1785 and 86. Similar experiments were made in France in 1781 and 86. But we believe it
in 1787 formed a company of forty shares, and commenced a boat of sixty tons, which, after immense difficulties and delays, rough machinery, and small cylinders, was found only to go against wind and tide at the rate of three miles an hour. This was no failure, it was a triumph ; and Fitch doubled his shares, constructed a new engine, built a new boat called the Perseverance, and on the 12th of October, 1788, the boat ascended the Delaware to Burlington, with thirty passengers, and made the passage in three hours and twenty minutes, and afterwards made eighty miles in one day. There is near us, as we write, a gentleman who stood on the wharf, and saw the boat ascend the Delaware. This was the first successful application of steam to the propelling of vessels. Fitch, therefore, was the original inventor, and to whom all honour was due.
" In 1788, after great exertions, he completed a larger boat, but it took fire, and burned to the water's edge. In 1791 he obtained a patent ; and a committee of the New York Legislature, in 1817, said that Livingston and Fulton's boat was substantially the invention of Fitch. He went to Europe, obtained no encouragement, worked his passage back as a common sailor, and, pennyless and hopeless, he poisoned himself in Kentucky in an obscure tavern, and was buried in a corner of the yard, without a stone to mark where the remains lay of the first discoverer of the application of steam to propelling vessels. He desired to be buried on the banks of the Ohio, and exclaimed in apparent distress of mind, when deliberating on his hard fate : "Why these earnest solicitations and excruciating anxieties! Why not leave them, and retire to rest under the shady elms on the fair banks of the Ohio, and there eat my coarse but sweet bread of industry and content, and when I have done, to have my body laid in the soft, warm, and loamy soil of the banks of the Ohio, my name inscribed on a neighbouring poplar, that future generations, when traversing the mighty waters of the West, may find my FITCH AND FULTON.
must be conceded to America,—to the sagacity and persevering efforts of the speculative and enterprising Fulton, that the earliest steamboat for any practical purposes throughout the world was first used in 1807, on the Hudson river, in the state of New York. She was called the “ North River,” with an engine of only eighteen horse power, and made the passage from Albany to New York, distance 156 miles, in thirty-three hours, which before that time was generally a five-days’ journey, namely, three days by water, and two by land conveyance. We have since frequently made the same travel, in the splendid vessels of the Hudson river, in eleven and twelve hours, and on one occasion in nine hours. The engines of the “ North River” were not, however, made in America, but were manufactured by Bolton and Watt, of Liverpool.
Since the first use or employment of steamboats in the United States, it is computed that thirteen hundred have been built in the country. Of these, about two hundred and sixty have been lost by various accidents, as many as two hundred and forty worn out, and the remaining eight hundred, of all sizes, including ferry and market boats, were running in 1839, of which we have the latest returns.
grassy turf.' And still later he breaks forth in the same poetical strain, referring to the position of his grave, and hoping that it may be made on the shores of some of the waters of the West, in order that the song of the boatman may enliven the stillness of his resting place, and the music of the steam engine sooth his troubled spirit.' Fulton has the eulogy, the fame, the money, -Fitch, the real inventor, is only now to receive the honour of a monument over his grave, which is proposed to be done in Kentucky. We see in this the instability of human affairs, the little security which genius can afford, the doubtful reward which merit claims; and the lesson it teaches is this, –always distrust your own judgment on the possibility of success of any invention, and never pronounce that man visionary, who rests his plans on reasonable grounds of success."
A considerable proportion of these steamers are employed upon the gigantic Mississippi, and its numerous tributaries, the Ohio, and other large western rivers, hitherto almost unnavigable, except in the direction of their currents. The painful and laborious effort of ascending these rivers made it always a task of much difficulty and delay-frequently of danger. From twelve to sixteen days were usually consumed in the passage from New Orleans to Natchez, distant 322 miles, while the same distance is now travelled against the stream in somewhat less than three days. The export and surplus produce of the great valley of the Mississippi and entire western territory of America, is usually forwarded by this route. Before the introduction of steam, large rafts, or boats of a rude and hasty construction, were put together for this purpose, which were carried onward with the current, merely requiring the direction of a few experienced hands to avoid the shoals, the snags, and other risks, to which this navigation is always exposed, to reach their destination ; when, from the difficulties of reascending the river, these boats were broken up, sold either as lumber, or for firewood, while the