Robert Fulton (1765-1815) was born on a farm near Little Britain in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. He was an inventor, engineer, and artist. Fulton spent his early years in Paris studying painting. In 1786 he went to London, and was received into the family of Benjamin West, under whose instruction he studied for several years
Fulton directed the construction of a steamboat in New York in 1807. Registered as the North River Steam Boat, the ship was generally called the Clermont after the Hudson River home of Robert Livingston. On Aug. 17, 1807, the steamboat started on its first successful trip 150 miles (241 kilometers) up the Hudson River from New York City to Albany, in about 30 hours, including an overnight stop. After extensive rebuilding, the boat began to provide regular passenger service on the Hudson.