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Sail and steam. An historical sketch showing New Jersey's connection with the events commemorated by the Hudson-Fulton celebration, September 25-October 9, 1909 online

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A Souvenir Prepared


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An Historical Sketch showing New Jersey's

connection with the events commemorated

by the Hudson-Fulton Celebration,

September 25-October 9, 1909.

( Second Edition )

Prepared by the




The following papers were compiled from records and
documents owned by the Free Public Library of Jersey City,
by Edmund W. Miller, Assistant Librarian.

The Li^irnry


New Jersey and the Hudson=Fulton

Few people appreciate the prominent part that New
Jersey has played in the events that are to be commemorated
at the Hudson-Fulton celebration. The Hudson River is
looked upon by many as belonging exclusively to New York,
and it is forgotten that twenty-three miles of the most im-
portant part of the shore is on the Jersey side of the river.
The second largest city on the Hudson is Jersey City; and
here are situated the terminals of the principal railroads which
bring the traveller to the Hudson River. Many of the largest
and swiftest ocean steamships which bring visitors to the
beautiful Hudson from all over the world land at Hoboken,
New Jersey. The largest section of the Palisades, one of the
most celebrated scenic featuresof the river, is situated on the
Jersey shore.

Many of the events which made the Hudson River so
prominent during the Revolution were enacted on Jersey soil.
One of the most celebrated of these occurred at Jersey City,
when in August, 1779, a handful of patriots under the leader-
ship of Major Harry Lee captured the forts at Paulus Hook
from the British.

In those incidents connected with Fulton's introduc-
tion of steam navigation which are to be commemorated
during the celebration, this state has had an important share.
New Jersey, located as it is, between the Hudson River on the
one side and the Delaware River on the other, and supplying
the direct line of travel between New York and the north, and
Philadelphia and the south, has always been vitally interested
in navigation. Its contribution to the progress of river trans-
portation has been especially noteworthy, in spite of the
serious handicap due to the monopoly granted by New York
State, which for many years prevented the use of any steam-
boat on the Hudson River not controlled by Fulton and his

associates. One of Fulton's most formidable rivals for the
honor of introducing steam for propelling vessels was a Jersey-
man, Colonel John Stevens, of Hoboken. It was also Colonel
Stevens who built the first steam ferry boat, which he used
on the Hoboken ferry for a short time. The first permanent
steam ferry ever operated was the Jersey City ferry, for
which Robert Fulton designed and built the boats. Fulton
had his work shops in Jersey City and it was in this city that
much of the machinery which he used in his early steamboats
was made.

According to some of the best authorities the "Cler-
mont" was fitted out and completed at these shops, and many
of her early trips were made from Jersey City.

It is believed that the following pages will show that
New Jersey has played no small part in the many glorious
events that have made up the history of " De Groote Rivier."


Nothing is known of the early life of Henry Hudscn. in 1607
in a small vessel with ten sailors he tried to find a short passage to
the East by the way of the Northern Ocean. In 1608 he made a sec-
ond voyage and reached Nova Zembla. In 1609, in the service of the
Dutch East India Company he made another attempt to find a north-
east passage, but reaching the coast of America, he steered south-
ward, and discovered the river which bears his name. He made a
fourth voyage in 1610 and discovered Hudson Strait and Bay, which
were also named after him. Being stopped by the ice, he attempted
to spend the winter on the shores of the bay, but running short of
provisions he started to return home in 1611. But his men mutinied
and taking possession of the ship, set Hudson and his son and some
others of the crew adrift in in an open boat. Nothing was ever heard
of their fate.


Robert Fulton was born in Little Britain, Pennsylvania in 1765.
His father died when Robert was three years old. When he was sev-
enteen years of age he became a miniature painter, and was so suc-
cessful that by the time he was twenty-one, he had saved enough money
to buy a small farm for his mother. Soon after he went to England
and studied painting under Benjamin West. He soon abandoned paint-
ing and devoted himself to mechanics. Among his inventions were
machines for spinning flax and making rope; a mill for sawing and
polishing marble; submarine bombs or torpedoes; and a submarine boat.
In 1796 he went to Paris, where he remained for several years. While
here he made a number of experiments in connection with steam navi-
gation. In 1806 he returned to America and in 1807 launched the "Cler-
mont" which made a trip to Albany and back propelled entirely by
steam. This was the beginning of practical steam navigation. Fulton
built a number of other steamboats after this. He died in New York
on February 24, 1815, and is buried in Trinity church yard.


An Historical Sketch Showing New Jersey's
Connection with the Events Com-
memorated by the Hudson-
Fulton Celebration.

If any of the Indians living along the shores of what is now New
Jersey had looked across New York Bay on the evening of September
2nd, 1609, a scene would have been disclosed which would have filled
them with amazement and dread. Slowly moving over the placid
waters was an object which seemed to the simple-minded savages like
a gigantic bird and which they doubtless thought was a visitor from
the spirit world. The strange looking object was Henry Hudson's
ship, the " Half Moon," as it sailed up the bay after months of vain
search for a short route to China.

Even to modem eyes the scene would be a strange one and the
spectator of the present day would be amazed at the sight of the odd
looking ship, and filled with wonder that anyone could have the courage
to venture over thousands of miles of dangerous and unknown waters
on such a frail craft.

On the 8th of January, 1609, an agreement was drawn up be-
tween the English navigator, Henry Hudson, and the Dutch East
India Company. Under this agreement the Com-
The Half pany was to furnish, provision and man, a vessel of

]^oon sixty tons, and Hudson was to command the vessel

and explore a "passage to China by the north
around the north side of the Nova Zembla ! ' ' On April 4th Hudson
sailed from Amsterdam, Holland, on the "Half Moon." This ves-
sel, destined to become so celebrated, was a shallow, almost flat-
bottomed, sail boat about 63 feet long and 17 feet beam, with a ton-
nage of 46 tons.

The crew was composed of sixteen men, half Dutch and half
English. It appears that Hudson was not familiar with the Dutch
language and in his communications with the majority of his crew he
was compelled to rely upon his mate, who acted as interpreter. Un-
der these circumstances it is not surprising that his control over his
men was weak, and it was not long before there were signs of a
mutiny. For several months fruitless efi'orts were made to find the
passage to China, and during this time the course of the vessel was
changed several times because of contrary winds and the mutinous
crew. Reaching Greenland, they sailed south along the coast, arriving


at Cape Cod about August 6th and at Chesapeake Bay, August 28th.
Then they sailed north and finally came within sight of the Jersey

On the 2nd of September the "Half Moon" anchored off the
Highlands of Navesink, and the first recorded reference to the land of
New Jersey is made by the mate, Robert Juet, the chronicler of the
voyage, when he says in his journal : " This is a good land to fall in
with and a pleasant land to see. " The next day they made a landing,
but whether on the New Jersey shore or on Long Island or Staten
Island is not known.

Several days were spent in exploring the lower bay and the ad-
jacent islands ; during which time one of the sailors named Coleman

was killed in a fight with the Indians. On the 11th
Httdson at they passed through the Narrows and anchored

G3inmunipaw ^^^ar the mouth of the Kill Von Kull. The next day

they sailed six miles further and anchored near
Communipaw. They were evidently struck with the beauty of the
country around Communipaw, for the following entry appears in their
journal : "This is as pleasant a land as one may tread upon ! " On
the afternoon of the same day they weighed anchor and entering the
river ascended as far as Weehawken, where they stayed for the night.
The next morning at 7 o'clock they continued their voyage and an-
chored for the night "in sight of a high point of land which showed
out to us, bearing north and by east five leagues off us." This was
without doubt what is now known as Indian Head, the highest point
of the Palisades. They continued up the river, passing the Highlands,
and on the 15th they "passed high mountains which lie from the
river's side." These were probably the Catskills, and this is the first
mention made of these mountains by white people. On September
19th they finally reached the neighborhood of the present city of Al-
bany. This was the highest point reached by the " Half Moon," but
small boats were sent out which explored the river for nearly twenty-
five miles further. The "Half Moon" remained in the vicinity of
Albany until the 23rd of September, when the return voyage was be-
gun. On October 4, 1609, Hudson passed Sandy Hook and putting
out to sea bade farewell forever to the river which he had discovered
and which has made his name immortal.

Two hundred years later another boat made a voyage up the
Hudson river which in its importance and far reaching effects equaled
the great voyage of Henry Hudson. As the "Half Moon" had
aroused the terror and amazement of the Indians, so the "Clermont"
as she moved up the river in August, 1807, belching forth clouds of
smoke and flames, excited the wonder and surprise of the crowds
along the shore, who little thought that "Fulton's Folly" would
prove to be the greatest invention of the century.

Like most other great discoveries and inventions, the honor of

first applying steam to the navigation of vessels has had many rival
claimants. Fulton himself never asserted that he
Steam was the inventor of the steamboat. His pre-

Navigation eminence is due to the fact that he was the first to

make it successful. Where most of his predeces-
sors had only outlined suggestions on paper or at best only reached the
experimental stage, he built a practical working machine, and
changed a vague theory into a successful business proposition.

In Admiral Preble's exhaustive History of Steam Navigation
the names of forty persons are recorded as having either suggested
or experimented with steam for the purpose of propelling vessels,
previous to the year 1807.

The earliest name mentioned is that of Blasco de Garray of
Spain, who in 1543 is said to have propelled a boat by wheels moved

by a caldron of boiling water. Careful investiga-
Denis Papin, tion has failed to show that steam or boiling water
J 707 w^s the motive power; but it seems evident that

paddle wheels were used, but they were probably
worked by men. The first steamboat of which there is any authentic
record was navigated on the River Fulda, in Prussia, in 1707. This
boat was built and operated by Denis Papin, a French engineer.
Though this boat was successful he only received ridicule and abuse
and the vessel was destroyed by some boatmen who were suspicious of
what might arise from the invention.

Among the many names connected with the origin of steam
navigation may be mentioned Jonathan Hulls, an Englishman, who
obtained a patent for a steam propelled boat in 1736, which, however,
never received a practical trial ; Perrier, a Frenchman, who con-
structed a vessel propelled by steam in 1775, but which was unsuc-
cessful ; the Marquis de Jouffroy, who built a steam vessel in 1781,
which was approved by the French Academy of Sciences. In 1784
Mr. James Rumsey of Virginia exhibited a model of a boat to be pro-
pelled by steam, to some visitors, one of whom was George Washing-
ton. Rumsey afterward obtained patents for this boat in the United
States and England.

In 1785 John Fitch presented to the American Philosophical
Society of Philadelphia a model of a machine for propelling a boat by

steam. Fitch tried to obtain assistance in further-
John Fitch, ing his invention from the Legislatures of Virginia,
J 785 Pennsylvania and Maryland, but without success.

On March 18, 1786, the Legislature of New Jersey
granted Fitch the exclusive right to make and use any kind of boat
propelled by steam, in the waters of New Jersey for fourteen years.
He formed a stock company and with its aid commenced experiments.
On the 27th of July, 1786, he placed a small boat or skiff on the Dela-
ware River propelled by oars or paddles, which were moved by a steam

engine. This was the first boat successfully propelled by steam in
America. Fitch continued his experiments and im-
Fitch's First provements and in 1788 built another boat which ran

Boat, J 786 by steam from Philadelphia to Burlington, about

twenty miles. This was the longest trip made by
any steamboat up to that time. This boat made a number of other
trips. In 1789 Fitch built another boat which after some alterations
was put in use on the Delaware River in 1790. Under a test she at-
tained a speed of eight miles an hour, and afterwards she was run re-
gularly as a passenger and freight boat for several months. Toward
the end of the year she was laid up and never used again, there not
being sufficient patronage to pay the expenses of running her. In
August, 1791, the United States Government granted Fitch a patent
for the application of steam for the propulsion of boats, for a term of
fourteen years. Fitch afterward built another boat which was given
a trial in the summer of 1796, on the old "Collect Pond" in New York
City. This pond was situated near the present Canal street and has
since been filled in, and built upon. The trial was made in the pres-
ence of a number of prominent persons and was successful. The
boat made a circuit of the pond several times. This boat was about
18 feet long and was operated by a screw-propeller.

Fitch died in 1798. He did not live to see steam navigation be-
come a practical success, but in his autobiography uses the following
prophetic words: "The day will come when some more powerful man
will get fame and riches from Tuy invention, but nobody will believe
that poor John Fitch can do anything worthy of attention."

In 1802, William Symington constructed a steamboat for tow-
ing vessels on the Forth and Clyde Canal in Scotland. This vessel,
which was named the "Charlotte Dundas," had a paddle wheel in the
stern and was a complete success. When not towing other boats she
attained a speed of six miles an hour. She appears to have been the
fii'st steam towboat ever made.

In 1787 Colonel John Stevens, of Hoboken, while driving along
the Delaware River saw the steamboat invented by John Fitch pass-
ing up the river. His curiosity was aroused and
John Stevens, following the boat to the landing he examined the
jyoy strange craft and at once became interested in the

subject of steam navigation. When he first began
his experiments he had not had much practical experience in me-
chanics, so he hired trained machinists to assist him. This method
soon proved unsuccessful; his first engineer was a drunkard, and the
second became sick and died. Stevens then decided to depend on his
own resources and building a shop on his own grounds employed work-
men under his immediate supervision.

In 1789 Stevens petitioned the New York Legislature for a grant
of the exclusive privilege of using steam for navigation in the waters
of New York, but without success. A few years later the New York



(From an Old Print.)






Colonel John Stevens was probably the greatest engineer of his
time. Of English descent, he was born in New York City in 1749.
During the Revolutionary War he held several important offices. In
1784 he bought the land where the city of Hoboken now stands and
soon after made his home there. In 1790 he petitioned Congress for
protection to American inventors, and this resulted in the passing of a
law in April, 1790, which was the foundation of the present patent
law. Besides his many inventions in connection with steam naviga-
tion, he patented the multitubular boiler in 1803; in 1813 he designed
an iron clad ship similar to the "Monitor" type afterward built by
Ericcson; in 1817 he obtained a charter, the first in America for a rail-
road from the Delaware to the Raritan; in 1823 he secured a charter
for the incorporation of the Pennsylvania Railroad. In 1826, when
nearly eighty years old, he built a steam locomotive, which he opera-
ted on a circular track on his estate at Hoboken. Passengers were
carried and a speed of twelve miles an hour was attained. This was
the first engine and train ever run in America. Colonel Stevens died
at Hoboken, March 6, 1838.

Legislature offered the exclusive privilege to any one who would
build a steamboat which, complying with certain conditions, would
attain a speed of three miles an hour.

In conjunction with Robert R. Livingston and Nicholas L
Roosevelt, Stevens in 1798 built a steamboat which made a trial trip,
but was too slow to fulfil the conditions imposed. In 1801 Livingston
went to France, having been appointed Minister from the United
States, and Stevens continued his experiments alone.

In May, 1804, Stevens built a steamboat which navigated the
Hudson propelled by twin screws. It had tubular boilers, the first

ever made, and two propellers each five feet in
Stevens Screw diameter, and each having five blades. The engine
Prooeller Boat ^^ ^^^^ boat was carefully preserved in the Stevens'
^ „p. . ^ Institute of Technology. Forty years later, in 1844,

it was placed in a new vessel modeled on the plan

of the first one and, without having the slightest
alteration, was worked successfully, the boat attaining a speed of
eight miles an hour. This experiment was made in the presence of a
committee from the American Institute and is a proof of the wonder-
ful skill and care used in the construction of this machinery. In 1807
Colonel Stevens in conjunction with his son Robert L. Stevens built a
paddle wheel steamboat which he named the "Phoenix." This was
placed on the Hudson and successfully operated only a few days later
than Fulton's voyage of the Clermont. Owing to the monopoly of
steam navigation in the waters of New York which Fulton and
Livingston had obtained, Stevens was prevented from using this boat
on the Hudson River. In 1809 he conceived the bold idea of taking
the boat under steam around Cape May to the Delaware River and
thence to Philadelphia. The vessel was manned by a small crew

under the command of Robert L. Stevens. They
First Ocean were caught in a severe storm but succeeded in

Voyage by making a harbor at Barnegat where they remained

Steam until the storm was over, when they continued their

voyage, arriving safely at Philadelphia. This was
the first ocean voyage ever made by a steam vessel. This boat made
regular trips between Trenton and Philadelphia for many years.

In the meantime experiments in steam navigation were being
made by a man who was soon to demonstrate its practical use and rev-
olutionize the entire theory of ship building. Robert
Robert Fttlton Fulton was of Irish descent and was bom in Lancas-
ter County, Pennsylvania in 1765. His father died
when Robert was but three years old and all the education he received
was at the village school at Lancaster. His taste for mechanics and
for drawing and painting was displayed very early, and he was so suc-
cessful with the latter that at the age of seventeen he was earning
his own living by this means. In 1786 he went to England, where
he lived for some years with Benjamin West, the celebrated

American painter. In 1797 he went to Paris, where he resided until
his return to America in 1806. During all this time he was busy
planning new inventions and mechanical schemes. Among the devices
which he invented or experimented with, were machines for spinning
flax and making ropes, for which he obtained patents; an excavator
for scooping out thechannelsof canals; a submarine boat; submarine
bombs, afterward known as torpedos, and many other contrivances.

As early as 1793 Fulton had conceived the idea of using the
steam engine for propelHng boats, and in 1798 he had offered plans
for steam vessels both to the United States and to the British govern-
ments. In 1802 he made a model of a small steamboat with paddle
wheels. About this time he tried to interest Napoleon in the subject
but without success. While in Paris he became acquainted with
Robert R. Livingston, then Minister to France. Livingston, who had
previously been connected with the experiments made by Stevens
and Roosevelt, at once became interested in Fulton's ideas and
offered to provide funds for his experiments. They began the con-
struction of an experimental steamboat on a large scale, and in the
spring of 1803 it was launched on the Seine. Fulton, however, had
not made the vessel sufficiently strong, and when the machinery
was placed on board, the boat broke through the middle and sank. He

then built a second vessel, and placing the same
Fulton's First machinery in it, made a trial trip in August, 1804.
Boats This boat, however, moved so slowly that it was a

complete failure. Fulton soon after this ordered a
steam engine to be made by Watt and Bolton. This was completed
and sent to New York in 1806. In the same year Fulton returned to
America and at once began work on a boat in which to place the new
machinery. It was built under Fulton's directions by Charles Brown,
a well known ship builder of New York. This boat, which was the
first to give a practical proof of the utihty of steam as a motive

power for vessels, was launched in the spring of
The Clermont 1807 and was named the "Clermont," after the

residence of Fulton's associate. Chancellor Living-
ston. It was 130 feet long, 18 feet beam and was provided with a
single engine.

The "Clermont" started on her first trip from New York to
Albany at 1 P. M. on Monday, August 17, 1807. Robert Fulton and
a few friends, some mechanics, and six passengers were on board. A
large crowd of incredulous and jeering people had gathered on the
shore to view the expected failure, but their ridicule was soon turned
to amazement and admiration as the boat put off successfully and
steamed rapidly up the river.

The account of this epoch making voyage is best given by Ful-
ton himself in a letter to the "American Citizen" :
To the Editor of the "American Citizen" :

" Sir — I arrived this afternoon at four o'clock in the steamboat


from Albany. As the success of my experiment gives me great hopes
that such boats may be rendered of great import-
The Clermont's ance to my country, to prevent erroneous opinions
First Voyag'e ^"^ ^^ derive some satisfaction to the friends of
useful improvements, you will have the goodness to
publish the following statement of facts:

"I left New York on Monday at one o'clock, and arrived at
Clermont, the seat of Chancellor Livingston, at one; time, twenty-
four hours; distance, one hundred and ten miles. On Wednesday I
left the Chancellor's at nine in the morning, and arrived at Albany
at five in the afternoon; distance, forty miles; time, eight hours.

"The run is one hundred and fifty miles in thirty-two hours,
equal to nearly five miles an hour. On Thursday, at nine o'clock in
the morning, I left Albany, and arrived at the Chancellor's at six in
the evening. I started from thence at seven, and arrived at New
York at four in the afternoon; time, thirty hours ; space run through,
one hundred and fifty miles, equal to five miles an hour. Throughout
my whole way, both going and returning, the wind was ahead. No

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Online LibraryFree Public Library of Jersey CitySail and steam. An historical sketch showing New Jersey's connection with the events commemorated by the Hudson-Fulton celebration, September 25-October 9, 1909 → online text (page 1 of 3)