Original Document
Original Document
John Wilson recalls his first ride on Fulton's steamboat, September 4, 1807.

"When Friday morning came the wharves, piers, housetops, and every spot from which a sight could be obtained, were filled with spectators. There were twelve berths, and every one was taken. The fare was $7. Thick, black smoke issued from the chimney - steam hissed from every ill-fated valve and crevice of the engine. Fulton himself was there, his remarkably clear and sharp voice was heard above the hum of the multitude and the noise of the engine. All his actions were confident and decided, unheeding the fearfulness of some and the doubts and sarcasms of others...

When everything was ready, the engine was started, and the boat moved steadily but slowly from the wharf. As she turned up the river and was fairly under way there arose such a huzza as ten thousand throats never gave before. The passengers returned the cheer, but Fulton stood erect upon the deck, his eye flashing with an unearthly brilliancy as he surveyed the crowd. He felt that the magic wand of success was waving over him, and he was silent...

As we passed West Point the whole garrison was out and cheered us. At Newburgh it seemed as if all Orange County had collected there; the whole side-hill city seemed animated with life. Every sail-boat and water craft was out; the ferry-boat from Fishkill was filled with ladies. Fulton was engaged in seeing a passenger landed, and did not observe the boat until she bore alongside. The flapping of the sail arrested his attention, and as he turned, the waving of so many handkerchiefs and the smiles of bright and happy faces, struck him with surprise. He raised his hat and exclaimed, "That is the finest sight we have seen yet."

Credit: Alice Crary Sutcliffe, Chapter 4, "The Clermont," in Robert Fulton and The Clermont.(The Century Co., New York, 1909). Available online at
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