Robert Fulton: Man of Designs
Robert Fulton was born on November 14, 1765. His parents were immigrants from Ireland and came to Pennsylvania. They owned a farm, but lost it because they could not afford it. They moved to Lancaster, PA. His dad died there in 1774. He learned to read and write at home, and at 8 years old he went to a Quaker school. At a young age Robert Fulton was talented. He was an artist and at 10 years old, he did design work for gunsmiths. At 17 years old, he went to Philadelphia. He worked in a jewelry store as an apprentice. He worked with lockets, but he was well known for miniature painting. He had met Benjamin Franklin, becoming friends with him, and painted his portrait. He got paid a lot of money and moved his mom on a farm he bought.
In 1787, he moved to London. He wanted to study art there. Benjamin West was a family friend and a popular artist in London who helped him. His paintings were not as popular, and he wasn’t making a lot of money like he did in Philadelphia. At this point, he was unsure of what the future could be if he kept painting.
Having a new interest in canal engineering had taken his attention away from the painting. As an engineer, he created the machine to saw marble, created the double-incline plane, which lifts boats out of the water. Also he created the mechanical dredge, which digs out dirt by a big machine. He wrote the booklet ‘Treatise on the Improvement of Canal Navigation’ that had details of his designs in canal systems.
Shipbuilding became his life. He designed the first submarine that he thought could be used in battle. He offered this idea to the French, but they turned it down. With his own money years later, he built his design of the submarine, named ‘Nautilus’. It was used later in battle with the British. In 1801, while living in Paris, he met Richard Livingstone. Livingstone had a 20 year control of steamboat navigation in the state of New York. They became business partners to create a...