The New Student's Reference Work/Fitch, John

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Fitch, John, inventor, was born in what is now South Windsor, Conn., in 1743, and is said to have committed suicide in the summer of 1798. In 1785 he completed his first model of a steamboat, which had wheels at the sides, replacing them in the following year with paddles. In the face of discouragement he built a vessel 45 feet long, which made a successful trial trip on the Delaware at Philadelphia, Aug. 22, 1787. A larger one was built in 1790, and attained a speed of eight miles an hour. Robert Fulton's steamboat was, in 1817, declared by a committee of the New York legislature to be “in substance the invention patented by John Fitch in 1791.”