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Between the War of 1812 and the Civil War, the United States witnessed tremendous industrial growth. Robert Fulton's invention of the steamboat was instrumental in the success of New York State's industrial strength by enabling the transportation of passengers-and eventually raw materials and finished goods-throughout the state and the country. This strength was further shown by DeWitt Clinton's plan to link New York City to the Great Lakes; the plan came to fruition in 1825 with the completion of the Erie Canal. Steamboat travel and the canal system had many positive effects: they lowered the cost of goods and travel, reduced the time needed to move products and people, and helped create new towns and businesses that were linked by waterways.


  • How did Robert Fulton's steamboat help improve transportation in New York State and throughout the United States?
  • What economic benefits were provided by the steamboat? Who benefited?
  • How was steam used to move the steamboat?

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