Who Invented the Steamboat?

The steamboat was invented in 1787 by John Fitch. The first prototype steamboat sailed on the Delaware River on Aug. 22, 1787, and measured 45 feet in length. The initial test was witnessed by members of the Constitutional Convention.

Fitch was granted a patent for his steamboat design in the United States on Aug. 26, 1791. This patent was only released after a conflict with James Rumsey, who also claimed to have invented the steamboat. After the success of his prototype, Fitch built a larger steamboat vessel that served as a passenger and freight ship between Burlington, N.J., and Philadelphia.