The Inventor Who Couldn’t Take No For An Answer

Robert Fulton was an American inventor, engineer, and painter who patented the original steamboat on February 11th, 1809. He experienced several losses and rejections in his life. Aside from that, Fulton also designed a system of inland waterways, a submarine, and steam warship. Let’s charge full steam ahead into the story how Fulton’s steamboat revolutionized water transportation.   

Humble Beginnings

Fulton was born on November 14th, 1765 in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. His parents were Irish immigrants searching for a better life, but tragedy struck when his family’s farm was foreclosed in 1771 and his father died in 1774. Fulton was homeschooled until he turned eight years old, where he was sent to a Quaker school. He became an apprentice in a Philadelphia jewelry shop and painted miniature portraits on ivory for lockets and rings.  

By 1786, Fulton moved to Bath, Virginia to recover from a serious illness. Fulton was charismatic and adored by the people in Bath. They also appreciated his art so much that they encouraged Fulton to study in Europe. The locals helped finance his journey to London in 1787, but his paintings were not received well by the people there. 

A Career Change

By 1794, Fulton abandoned his painting efforts completely and focused on canal engineering. In attempts to improve water transportation in countryside, several bridges were constructed based on his designs. However, his canal ideas were not acknowledged.

Fulton then pivoted his efforts and traveled to Paris to propose the idea of a submarine called the Nautilus. This submarine would be used in France’s war with Britain. However, the French government deemed it a barbaric way to fight and rejected his invention. This prompted Fulton to create the Nautilus himself, but his trial runs failed miserably 

A Change of Luck

It wasn’t until 1801 when Fulton’s luck began to change. Fulton met Robert R. Livingston, a member of the committee that drafted the U.S Declaration of Independence. Livingston had a 20-year monopoly of steamboat navigation within the state of New York.

Together Fulton and Livingston built a steamboat in Paris using Fulton’s design, a 66-foot long boat with an eight-horsepower engine of French design and side paddle wheels. With several failed trials and years of countless modifications, Robert Fulton’s steamboat, the Clermont was finally patented.  

Whether it is a new product or a new business, success does not always come right away. We can learn a lot from Robert Fulton’s perseverance. If the road you are trying to pursue does not work out, pivot and try again. Allow NNRoad to take you on your journey to global success today!