In 1802 - William Symington (in Scotland) demonstrated what has become historically known as "Europe's first practical
steamboat" the Charlotte Dundas. Of course, history does not tell us what made it so "practical". Maybe because it was the first
one that floated, or perhaps that it reached a speed of 4 mph. Whatever made it so "practical" however, we can easily figure out
who knew the answer...
Symington's demonstration was witnessed by two Americans, one was Robert Livingston, America's Minister to France, and
the other was a fledging American artist trying to find passage home after not finding any career success in London or Paris.
The artist, was Robert Fulton.
Meanwhile, President Thomas Jefferson (our 3rd President) is in office, and extremely worried about Napoleon's
ambitions to take over the world - and, rightfully so. ( Napoleonic Wars) As the former American Minister to France, President
Jefferson already had concerns Napoleon had plans to invade America; and evidence provided to him by Capt. John Paul
Jones had confirmed his suspicions. Jones provided Jefferson with proof that part of Napoleon's army had already crossed
Siberia, with plans to ride Russian fur-trade vessels across the ocean, and then march to the White House. If successful it would
mean that Napoleon's Army could completely surround the United States. So, Jefferson made two 'timely and critical' decisions:
1. to send James Monroe to France to meet with Robert Livingston so the two of them to discuss the possibility of purchasing
the 'City' of New Orleans from Napoleon.
2. Jefferson created "The Corp of Discovery" which sent Lewis & Clark on an expedition to find out if indeed there was a water
route that Napoleon would use to reach the Mississippi river and thus the White House, from the Pacific Ocean.
Now, back in France, watching Symington's demonstration, the American artist Robert Fulton was meticulously drawing
every detail of the Charlotte Dundas as he and the American Minister - Robert Livingston, became quick friends. When Fulton
finally made it home, he was carrying with him what would prove to be some very valuable drawings - not of landscapes or French
nudes however - but of the Charlotte Dundas.
Luckily for us, back in France, Napoleon was seriously detracted. He had fallen madly in love with Marie-Louise - 21 years
his younger, and the daughter of the Emperor of Austria (that he had just over-thrown) and daughter of the Princess Theresa of
Naples (where he announced himself King).
Napoleon, still married to Josephine, is now having an affair with a cute little thing 21 years younger than How timely it was though, that James Monroe and Robert Livingston enter the picture. Sent by President Jefferson;
he... And she is used to the finer things in life (being a Princess and all), is spending Napolean's money faster
than he can move his armies. Suddenly, Napoleon is having financial troubles. While trying to maintain armies;
win wars, and keep the wife happy, Napoleon is preoccupied with keeping his new love interest satisfied.
WOW! Does that sound familiar? No man... even if he is an Emperor or even a President, can handle all that
messing around and still take care of business. (Then again, I guess that all depends on what your definition
of "is" is. LOL )
Monroe had ten million dollars in his pocket to try and buy, just the 'City' of New Orleans. So when Monroe and Livingston
mention to Napoleon that America has some interest in a tiny bit of unspecified land on the Mississippi - Napoleon is so thrilled,
before he hears their offer... He offers them "all" of Louisiana for $15 million. Monroe of course, didn't even think twice, It would
have taken at least 6 months to send a messenger to Jefferson. (remember, no phones). So, Monroe and Livingston finalized the
deal with Napoleon on the spot.
Suddenly, the Louisiana purchase was made; and although it wouldn't be "officially celebrated" until 1803, it was a done deal
that instantly doubled the size of the United States, adding Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Kansas,
Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Wyoming and Colorado. And as the ink was drying on Napoleon's signature to
the agreement, Lewis & Clark were already on their way.
In 1803 - Now, "inventor" Robert Fulton was a very busy and popular man. He and the American Minister to France,
Robert Livingston (who came back to America with James Monroe) had formed a partnership; and with Fulton's drawings in
hand, Livingston and Fulton became partners and soon had the exclusive steam-powered navigation rights for the development of
steamboats. This, is all they needed.
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