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illustration of John Fitch

John Fitch was an American inventor and entrepreneur most famous for operating the first commercial steamboat in the United States. On August 22, 1787, with delegates from the Constitutional Convention meeting in Philadelphia observing, Fitch’s steamboat navigated the waters of the Delaware River. Fitch operated the vessel, which had a capacity of thirty passengers, between Philadelphia and Burlington, New Jersey and hoped to make the venture profitable, but shortcomings with both his patent (1791) and his business skills led investors to pull out of his company and the business failed. It was Robert Fulton who demonstrated the commercial viability of steam powered vessels.

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Fitch Steamboat Museum

Relevant Date(s)
1743 - 1798

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