John Fitch By: Erin Nolte

John Fitch was born on January 21, 1743 and died on July 2, 1798. Fitch's mother died when he was only four years old and his father's death was harsh. Fitch was pulled from school when he was eight years old to work on the family farm. After he escaped the hated farm, Fitch took up silversmithing.

Fitch served in the American Revolution and surveyed the land along the Ohio River. In 1782, Fitch was captured by Indians and turned over to the British. After he was released in 1785, Fitch drew a map of the Northwest Territory.

John Fitch was most famous for inventing America’s first steamboat. The steamboat was more efficient than a simple paddle boat. On August 22, 1787, he demonstrated his first steamboat. Fitch then created a new and larger boat to carry passengers and cargo. He received a U.S. patent for the steamboat in August 1791. Fitch received another patent for the steamboat from the French.

Present Day Steamboat

Model of John Fitch's Steamboat

The boat used a row of steam-powered oars on each side. Fitch's future boats used the paddle wheel.


Created with images by tinkerbrad - "delta queen 2008b" • cocoparisienne - "nile egypt river"

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