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Steamboats on the Hudson: An American Saga

Steamboats on the Hudson: An American Saga

Lithograph drawing of a steamboat

Two Bobs, Three Johns, Three Jims , a Nick, an Aaron, a Tom and a Boat

On August 17, 1807, Robert Fulton fired up his steamboat in the North (Hudson) River, ushering in a more comfortable, enjoyable, efficient and reliable mode of transportation between Albany and New York City.

In New York State, this trip was the culmination of a 20-year effort by inventors and entrepreneurs to achieve a monopoly on operating steamboats on the Hudson River. These men had used newspapers, booklets, the New York State Legislature and the courts to either sway public opinion or to solidify their positions.

About This Exhibit

The New York State Library mounted this exhibit of materials from its collections that document the history of the development of steamboats in 2007, to mark the 200th anniversary of Fulton's trip to Albany and back. This exhibit makes use of several collections at the New York State Library:

  • manuscript collections
  • newspapers
  • New York State laws
  • books
  • online databases
  • microfilm collections
  • prints