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Mississippi River steamboat built in 1802

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Old 05-28-2013, 10:11 PM
Join Date: May 2013
Posts: 12
Default On the point of positive spin for Fulton

Fulton and Livingston were not well thought of at all by a great many, especially in the south... NOw it may be because the North won the Civil War... that has more to do with Fulton and Livingstons favorable publicity... but all in all they really do deserve the credit for much of the early Steam endeavors on the major rivers... They may have had privillage... they may have had powerful influence through Livingstons Founding Father Status, but that was the name of the game back then.... they played the game better than others... Here's the section I thought you might like to see....

Pittsburg Legal Journal, Vol 59 No. 42 (21 Oct 1911) pp 570-591
The New Orleans, Being a Critical Account of the Beginning of Steamboat Navigation on the Western Rivers of the United States, by Charles W. Dahlinger

"Benjamin H. Latrobe, the father of Mrs. Roosevelt, and who is known to fame as the architect of the Capitol at Washington, had placed them in an embarrassing position, by going so far beyond his instructions in the expenditure of money, that Mr. Fulton in the letter to Mr. Cook already alluded to, in his disappointment complained: "I am tired of distant operation;" and in referring to some of his associates, he said, "They are alarmed and disgusted with the expenses, and state of their affair;" and after the novelty of the new method of traveling by water had worn off, business began to decline. Also boats built by rival companies were continually appearing on the rivers, and taking away a portion of the carrying trade, from the Livingston and Fulton boats; and it is more than problematical if Mr. Livingston who furnished the original capital when the partnership was formed, ever received back any portion of the sum so advanced; and when Mr. Fulton died, instead of possessing the fortune which his sanguine temperament had led him to believe would be his, he was practically penniless.

The steamboat enterprise was continued under the name of Livingston and Fulton, after the death of the two principals, the articles of agreement entered into between them providing for this contingency, and the firm was continually engaged in expensive litigation with the owners of boats built under patents other than those of Mr. Fulton, who were unwilling to accede to the demands of Livingston and Fulton, and pay them for a license to navigate the waters of Louisiana. Among the most persistent violators of their rights were the proprietors of the two steamboats built under the patent of Daniel French, the Enterprise and the Dispatch, and the owners of the Constitution, built by Oliver Evans, at Pittsburgh in 1816. Feeing against Livingston and Fulton ran high. The names of both Mr. Livingston and Mr. Fulton were execrated in all the river towns above New Orleans, and no sane person would then have dreamed of holding up Mr. Fulton as a benefactor of mankind, or of making him the popular hero that he has since become. William Wirt, the attorney general of the United States, in the argument of the celebrated case of Gibbons against Ogden, the United States, in which the ban was finally, in 1824, placed on all monopoly in the navigation of the rivers of the United States, when the exclusive rights granted to Livingston and Fulton by the state of New York were held to be void, declared that the existing conditions were so intolerable, that in three states there was danger of civil war."

Fulton and Livingston took quite a beating to their names and status in the years soon after their deaths. Again this is primarily in the south but I know that in the north the next generation of tycoons like the Vanderbuilt family had been competing openly with them in the same manner and this family certainly ended up embedded with the political powers that be as well as the newspapermen in the north from that time on and until the mid 20th century and there was no love lost between those famous Huson Valley families... so any credit given to Fulton and Livingston in history certainly was not from a good family publicist.

Anyway for what its worth I am finding some great information.... I find this era of history fascinating...

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