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Prior to the invention of the steamboat, waterborne navigation relied primarily on wind power and efficient sail design. With the onset of the transportation revolution, steam became the major source of power. Commercial steam boating on the Hudson River began with Robert Fulton’s successful run from New York to Albany on August 14, 1807. Robert Livingston, Jr., was Robert Fulton’s partner in the steamboat business. The United States Supreme Court case Gibbons v. Ogden (1824) addressed issues that arose from this partnership. The Court held that the power to regulate interstate navigation was granted to Congress by the commerce clause of the Constitution.
Editor’s Note: Robert Fulton’s steamboat was registered as the North River Steam Boat, but it was generally known as the Clermont.


  • What impact did Robert Fultonís Clermont and steamship technology have on history?
  • What impact did the Clermont have on trade and commerce?
  • What impact did the Gibbons v. Ogden U.S. Supreme Court decision have on the economic and commercial development of the United States?

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