FULTON, ROBERT. Autograph letter signed in full (with paraph) to Major General Henry Dearborn, New York, 4 June 1814. One page, 4to, on pale pink wove paper watermarked "AMIES." Fine condition; With a contemporary scribal document, n.d., one page, 4to, giving specifications and measurements of the ship, driveshaft and water wheel.
FULTON'S ESTIMATES FOR THE CONSTRUCTION OF THE WORLD'S FIRST STEAM-POWERED WARSHIP, THE U.S.S. Fulton the First
"Sir, As by order of the committee all bills for wages and materials for the Engine, will pass through my hands to them, I beg leave to present you with the annexed estimate of the sum required per month for the engine and Machinery.
"900 dollars a week workmens wages or per month 3600
8 Tons of copper a month at 50/100 a pound .......... 8000
Iron castings and Wrought iron.........................5000
"This sum will be required for three months to drive on the works with all dispatch, after which a less sum will answer the purpose, so that if 8000$ a month will accomodate Messrs. Browns 25000$ a month will be required. I am Sir respectfully your most Obedient Robert Fulton."
When hostilities commenced with Britain in the War of 1812, it was soon evident that cities like New York were dangerously prone to attack by the Royal Navy's warships. Fulton, who had been successfully building and operating passenger steamships since 1807 (the year the Clermont was successfully tested on the Hudson River), invited a group of eminent citizens to meet at his home in New York in December 1813 to discuss the building of a steam-powered warship for the protection of New York's coast and harbor. The Committee christened itself the Coast & Harbor Defence Committee; General Dearborn was named President and other members included Commodore Stephen Decatur, General Morgan Lewis, Cadwallader Colden, Oliver Wolcott, Jr., John R. Livingston and Henry Rutgers. A vessel, mounting 24 guns firing 24- or 32-pound shells, "to be propelled by steam at the speed of from four to fivel miles and hour, without the aid of wind or tide," its sides heavily armored by copper sheeting, was conceived and a model constructed in New London in January 1814. The Committee contacted the Secretary of the Navy, who gave them enthusiastic encouragement. When detailed cost estimates had been prepared, construction of the revolutionary armored vessel began in the New York Navy Yard. The first steam warship, the U.S.S. Fulton the First was successfully launched in New York in October 1814, but the ill-conceived conflict with Great Britain ended before she saw actual naval combat. Fulton was at the same period experimenting with submarine vessels and marine torpedoes.