Sunday, September 27, 2015

Fall Reading 2015 Jr. Graphic American Inventors: Robert Fulton

This graphic novel biography of Fulton is short enough to be non-intimidating, but covers all the basics. What I especially liked about the book were the inclusion of the influential people in his life. Fulton isn't given credit with accomplishing everything on his own through pure genius or luck; rather, he had powerful sponsors who were willing to refer him to those that might help him in his goals. His acquaintance with Benjamin Franklin led to Benjamin West, which led to Charles Stanhope, and then to Lord Shelburne. Shelburne referred him to friends in France which led to meeting with Napoleon Bonaparte and the first working model of Fulton's submarine being built. While in Paris, he met the American Ambassador Robert Livingston and they began their partnership to build paddle wheel steamships. Visiting England to purchase a larger steam engine put him in the right place to have the English Navy interested in his designs for torpedoes. 

While Fulton was very talented as an artist, designer, and engineer - his success would not have been possible without his persistence and the support of many people along the way. This portrayal of his life includes those friendships and contacts, as well as the numerous ventures he pursued along the way. It also takes care to mention that Fulton was not the first to design a steamship, his design simply improved upon the idea and proved that travel on such vessels was economically sound. We can only imagine what he would have gone on to accomplish if he had not become ill and died at the age of 49.

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