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was named Fulton the First; but before she was launched this ingenious
man was no more.
During the whole time that Mr. Fulton had thus been devoting his talents to the service of his country, he had been harassed by lawsuits and controversies with those who were violating his patent-rights, or intruding upon his exclusive grants. The State of New Jersey had passed a law which operated against Mr. Fulton. He visited Trenton, the capital, and succeeded in obtaining its repeal. On his return he was exposed on the Hudson, which was very full of ice, for several hours. He had not a constitution to encounter such exposure, and upon his return, found himselt much indisposed from the effects of it. He had at that time great anxiety about the steam-frigate, and, after confining himself for a few days, he went to give his superintendence to the artificers employed about her. Forgetting his debilitated state of health in the interest he took in what was doing on the frigate, he remained too long exposed, in a bad day, to the weather on her decks. He soon felt the effects of this imprudence. His indisposition returned upon him with such violence as to confine him to his bed. His disorder increased, and on the 24th day of February, 1815, terminated his valuable life.
Mr. Fulton was not the original inventor of the steamboat, nor never claimed to be. Many steamboats had been made before the Clermont, both in Europe and in America; the most successful of which, was that constructed by John Fitch, a Connecticut clock-maker. He built a steamboat on the Delaware propelled by paddles; which, for about a month, in 1790, regularly plied as a passage-boat between Philadelphia and Bordentown; traversing in that period over two thousand, miles. Her speed was, at tires, eight miles an hour; and this with an engine manufactured in this country by common blacksmiths, under the supervision of Fitch. All that can be rightfully claimed for Fulton in this matter, is, that his experiment convinced the world of the practicability of steam-navigation ; so that steamboats have never ceased running from that day to this.
S. F. B. MORSE, AND THE MAGNETIC TELEGRAPH. Samuel F. B. Morse; widely known as the inventor of the Magnetic Telegraph, is the eldest son of the Rev. Jedediah Morse, the first American geographer, and was born in Charlestown, Massachusetts, in 1791. He graduated at Yale College in 1810, and the year after went to London, to learn the art of painting. He made very rapid progress, and gave great promise of surpassing excellence in the profession. "On his return to America, he settled in Boston, but he met with so little encouragement that he removed to New Hampshire, where he found employment in Painting portraits at fifteen dollars per head. He was induced by his friends to remove to Charleston, South Carolina, and there his art proved more profitable. About 1822, he took up his residence in New York, where he found his works and talents more justly appreciated, and his skill as an artist put in requisition. Under a commission from the corporation, he painted a full-length portrait of Lafayette, then on a visit to the United States. It was shortly after this, that Mr. Morse formed that association of artists, which resulted in the establishment of the National Academy of
Design, of which he was elected president; and it is worthy of note, that the first course of lectures on the subject of art read in America, was delivered by him before the New York Athenæum, and afterward repeated to the students of the academy. In 1829, he paid a second visit to Europe, and remained abroad three years.
On his return from Europe, in the packet-ship Sully, in 1832, a gentleman, in describing the experiments that had just been made in Paris with the electro-magnet, the question arose as to the time occupied by the electric fluid in passing through the wire, stated to be about one hundred feet in length. On the reply that it was instantaneous (recollecting the experiments of Franklin), he suggested that it might be carried to any distance, and that the electric spark could be made a means of conveying and recording intelligence. This suggestion, which drew some casual observation of assent from the party, took deep hold of Professor Morse, who undertook to develop the idea which he had originated; and, before the end of the voyage, he had drawn out and written the general plan of the invention with which his name will be inseparably connected. His main object was to effect a communication by means of the electro-magnet that would leave a permanent record by signs answering for an alphabet, and which, though carried to any distance, would communicate with any place that might be on the line. His first idea was to pass a strip of paper, saturated with some chemical preparation, that would be decomposed whon brought in connection with the wire, along which the electric current was passing, and thus form an alphabet by marks, varying in width and number, that could be made upon the paper at the will of the operator, and by this means avoid separating the wire at the different points of communication.
On his return to New York, he resumed his profession, still devoting all his spare time, under great disadvantages, to the perfection of his invention. Finding his original plan impracticable, he availed himself of the action of the electro-magnet upon the lever as a mode of using pens and ink, as in the ruling machine. Of these he had five, with the idea of securing the required characters from one of the pens. These he abandoned for pencils, and after a trial of varions means for obtaining the end desired, and finding by experiment he could obtain any requisite force from the lever, he adopted the stylus or steel point for indenting the paper, and it is this he has since used.
After great difficulty and much discouragement, Professor Morse, in 1835, demonstrated the practicability of his invention, by completing and putting in operation in the New York University a model of his . Recording Electric Telegraph'--the whole apparatus, with the exception of a wooden clock, which formed part of it, having been made by himself. In 1837, he abandoned his profession, with great regret, hoping to make his invention à means of resuming it, under easier and more agreeable circumstances. In the same year, he filed his caveat at the patent-office in Washington; and it is somewhat singular that, during this year (1837), Wheatstone, in England, and Steinheil, in Bavaria, both invented a magnetic telegraph, differing from the American, and from each other. Wheatstone's is a very inferior, not being a recording telegraphı, but requiring to be watched by one of the attendants--the alphabet being made by the deflection of the needle. Steinheil's, on the contrary, is a recording telegraph, but from its complicated and delicate machinery, has been found impracticable for extended lines. At a convention held in 1851 by Austria, Prussia, Saxony, Wirtemberg, and Bavaria, for the purpose of adopting a uniform system of telegrapna ing for all Germany, by the advice of Steinheil, Professor Morse's was the one selected. From the sultan of Turkey he received the first foreign acknowledgment of his invention in the bestowal of a nishan, or order-tho order of glory :' a diploma to that effect was transmitted to him with the magnificent decoration of that order in diamonds. The second acknowledg. ment was from the king of Prussia, being a splendid gold snuff-box, containing in its lid the Prussian gold medal of scientific merit. The latest acknowledgment is from the king of Wurtemberg, who transmitted to him (after the adoption of the Telegraph treaty by the convention above mentioned) the 'Wurtemberg Gold Medal of Arts and Sciences.' In 1838, he went to England, for the purpose of securing a patent there, but was refused, through the influence of Wheatstone and his friends, under the pretense that his invention had already been published there. All that could be adduced in proof of this was the publication in an English scientific periodical of an extract copied from the New York : Journal of Commerce, stating the results of his invention, without giving the means by which they were produced. In the following spring, he returned to this country, and in 1840 perfected his patent at Washington, and set about getting his telegraph into practical operation.
In 1844, the first electric telegraph was completed in the United States, between Baltimore and Washington; and the first intelligence of a public character which passed over the wires was the announcement of the nomination of James K. Polk, as the democratic candidate for the presidency, by the Baltimore convention. Since then, he has seen its wires extended all over the country, to the length of thousands of miles--an extent unknown elsewhere in the civilized world. His success has led to the invasion of his patent-rights by others, whom he has finally succeeded in defeating, after an expensive and protracted litigation.”
The greatest triumph of Professor Morse, we hope, will be found in the success of the submarine telegraph between America and Europe, efforts being now prosecuted to lay the cable across the Atlantic." The honor of having laid the first permanent telegraph under water, belongs to the English, in laying that from Dover to Calais. But the first conception of, and the first attempt at submarine telegraphic communication, were the fruit of the genius of our countryman, Professor Samuel F. B. Morse.
In the New York Herald of 17th October, 1842, the following paragraph occurs : "Professor Morse will perform a highly interesting experiment with his electro-magnetic telegraph, by which a correspondence will be carried on between Castle Garden and Governor's Island. On the following day the same journal refers again to the subject, and predicts that 'it is destined to work a complete revolution in the mode of transmitting intelligence throughout the civilized world.
On the night of 18th October, Professor Morse set out from Castle Garden in a small boat, with one man to row. In the stern sheets he had a coil of wire, insulated by being wrapped in cotton thread covered with a coating of asphaltum and India rubber; this he paid out' as the boatman rowed
; across to Governor's Island, and had the satisfaction of making fast the end to a battery on the island some time before daybreak. Thus far all had been propitious. But when the sun rose, Professor Morse discovered, with dismay, that after he had laid his wire, two or three vessels had anchored directly over it. He foresaw the consequence. When the people assembled, and the hour of trial came, the battery was set to work, and the professor, with a trembling hand, essayed to send a message to the island. He succeeded in transmitting a few marks, but they were illegible; the anchors had fouled the wire and destroyed its insulation; the crowd went home convinced that telegraphic communication under water was all humbug;' and the professor was hardly consoled by a letter of thanks and a gold medal from the institute, and a fair appreciation by the press.
Somewhat discouraged, in truth, but, of course, firm in confidence, Professor Morse applied his mind to the transmission of the electric current across rivers without the aid of wires. This experiment was successfully performed, and the current sent across the canal at Washington, without intervening wire, in presence of many members of congress and distinguished persons, in December, 1842. Nothing care of it. But Professor Morse was so well satisfied that his failure at Castle Garden was only a step to the success of submarine telegraphs, that he wrote to the Secretary of the Treasury, on 10th August, 1843: "The practical inference to be drawn from the law (which he had developed), is, that a telegraphic communication may be established across the Atlantic. Startling as this may now seem, the time will come when this project will be realized.'
Nor does the professor stand alone. In the winter of 1842–3, Colonel Colt laid a submarine telegraphic wire across from New York to Brooklyn, and from Long Island to Coney Island. This wire, which was laid for the purpose of obtaining early marine news, worked for some time to the public satisfaction.
It was not till five years afterward that the Dover and Calais line was laid. : Public opinion was against it; and when the wire was actually laid, and messages passing to and fro, the wise men still said that it could not be. Some declared that the messages were á fraudulent imposture ; others simply shrugged their shoulders. One of our leading periodicals, in alluding to the event, said, with a sñeer, "The thing actually seems to work, for the present.'
Other lines rapidly followed--the Dover and Ostend line, the Liverpool and Dublin, the line to the Hague, the line from Piedmont to Sardinia and Corsica, and the Newfoundland line, on this side of the ocean," etc.
GEORGE STEERS, THE AMERICAN SHIP-ARCHITECT. One of the most melancholy chapters in the history of almost every man of genius, whose beneficent labors have made the earth better by residence upon it, is that which tells of the misdirection of his earliest efforts in the great battle of life, and the time lost, and the discouragements encountered in the vain attempt to do what nature never intended he should do. The right man has to fight his way into the right place, through a thousand discouraging obstacles, but he finds it at last. Fulton spent the best years of his life in painting bad historical pictures, which are only remembered now because they were painted by him. The great engineer and inventor, whose beneficent genius has done so much for mankind, frittered away his early manhood in designing allegorical compositions as illustrations of Joel Barlow's epic poem. But Fulton found the place at last, and the glory of his name will never fade from the memory of
It was the good fortune of George Steers to be born into the very sphere where his natural genius could be employed to the best advantage for himself and the world. His father was a ship-carpenter, an Englishman by birth, and a resident of the City of Washington, where George was born, in the year 1819; but fortunately for him, the elder Steers removed to the City of New York, to work at his trade; and among the operations in which he engaged, was the building of the famous Marine Railway, commonly known as the Dry Dock. The father of George Steers was remarkable for his integrity of character and perfect uprightness; and it is a circumstance worth mentioning, that when the distinguished son of this honest man had taken the contract to build the great steam-ship Adriatic, a gentleman, who was an entire stranger to liim, volunteered to be one of his bondsmen, because he had been acquainted with his father, and knew him to be "as honest a man as ever breathed."
The region of the Dry Dock was, and still is, devoted to the business of ship-building in all its branches; it was here the young lad Steers passed his early years, and, in fact; his whole life. While his father was employed upon the Marine Railway, George made himself useful in the humble occupation of tending the pitch-kettle ;” but he did not confine himself to that humble employment, his mind was occupied in inventing models of boats and ships, which he 'put successfully into shape as opportunities occurred. His first practical effort at ship-building, was in the construction
was." His mind was of so practical a character, and his instincts so sure, that he never manifested any desire to obtain information from books, or cared to listen to the suggestions of others. Though one of the most modest natures in the world, he never had the slightest misgivings as to the correctness of his own theories, nor would he yield his own opinions to the dictations of another. It was, perhaps, unfortunate
It was, perhaps, unfortunate for him that he had not enjoyed greater advantages of schooling: not that schooling could have done anything for him toward" making him a better builder of ships, but a better acquaintance with literature, and the scientific formula of his art, would have enabled him to appear to much better advantage, and have gained him a readier acknowledgment of his inventive genius. Those who knew him best, had unbounded confidence in his ability ; but to strangers, it seemed very naturally questionable that a man whose general education was so limited should so much excel all others in his noble profession. But it did not take long for him to gain the utmost confidence of those with whom he came in contact.
He continued to make models for boats, until he became a master in his art, at an age when other boys were but beginning to learn. At the age of sixteen, he tried and built a sail-boat sixteen feet long, named the Martin