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Fulton, Robert (1765-1815) to Earl of Stanhope

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Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC04661.01 Author/Creator: Fulton, Robert (1765-1815) Place Written: Paris, France Type: Autograph letter signed Date: 14 April 1798 Pagination: 7 p. : docket ; 25.3 x 19.8 cm.

Summary of Content: Fulton Writes to Stanhope to tell him about how well received his own ideas about canals have been in France, and to convince Stanhope that the British need to adopt his plans as well. Claims that his "small system of canals" will make fortunes for countries that use them, prove vital to trade, and simplify taxation and systems of government. Says he has enclosed two long letters explaining his new system of canals (GLC04661.02 and GLC04661.03). Asks Stanhope to see that the letters are published, so that his ideas can become popular in England.

Background Information: Robert Fulton was an engineer and entrepreneur, often credited with inventing the steamboat. While Fulton did not invent any of the individual components of the steamboat, he did combine the ...ideas of many other men to make the most successful steamboat. He was also involved in a number of other engineering projects, including his attempt to revolutionize canal building by making canals smaller and using them as a country's primary means of transporting goods. His plan, though intriguing, met with little success in the end.
Charles Stanhope, the third Earl of Stanhope, was a British politician and noted inventor, and a patron of Fulton's.
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Full Transcript: To the Earl of Stanhope
Paris April 14th 1798
My Lord
hoping every month to Return to England; together with the difficulty of transmiting [sic] Letters [inserted: to London], has hitherto ...prevented my Writing to you since my arrival In Paris, But at present I have troubeled [sic] you with a very Long Letter, the object of Which I will here explain. -Since my arrival In Paris I have been very active In my Canal pursuits. And on this subject I have Created a Revolution In the mind of all the french [sic] engineers I have met with. who are men descidedly [sic] In favour [sic] of the small system of Canals - Which are men Contemplated on an immense scale of extension which you will be explained in my [strikeout] Letter - It is Contemplated to Raise the Whole Revenue by a single [tell] on Canals - which system will Inferably simplify the operations of Government, tend directly to set trade free and annihilate a Mass of Political Absurdities which have hitherto disturbed the peace of [Naleens] - all of Which you will [2] find explained in the annexed Letter, Which Letter will show you how much Frenchmen are turning their mind to the true fountain of Riches - [inserted: viz] home Improvement and Systems of Industry - With the true philosophic Ideas which the entertain of Foreign Possessions and Restricted trade, And I can assure you that I find [inserted: in them] the most Resolute determination to establish the principles [struck: that] Which you will find explained - And Which to me appears of the Very first Importance to Lasting peace - and the Wellfare [sic] of all Nations - It is therefore of much Importance that English Men should know the truth of these principles and Learn their true Interest, [struck: they should also understand that Frenchmen are [illegible]] by Giving up as the french mean to do and will Compel others to do. the System of foreign Possessions and Restricted trade they should also understand that Frenchmen [3] Are Realy [sic] thinking Like philosophers Which I hope my Letter will prove - Which Letter although addressed to you, I mean should be published In england [sic] In order to awaken the mind to Reflect on the subject of Canal System. Simple taxation home Improvement and a free trade - having put those Ideas together I saw the difficulty of getting them Read or thought of in England unless they were Introduced In such a Manner as to awaken Curiosity
I therefore hope that your full sense of the vast Importance of Cultivating just political Ideas will Induce you to have the Letters printed under the following title,
Two Letters [struck: dated] [inserted: from] Paris [inserted: dated] [struck: April] the 10 and 14th of april Writen [sic] By Robt Fulton to the Right honourable [sic] the Earl of Stanhope Explaining the [struck: Politics of] [inserted: present Projects Contemplated by] the government, [inserted: of France] [struck: their views with Regard to future Revenue their plans of [Agrandisement], and [4] views with Regard to Foreign possessions, and trade], 1t their plans of [inserted: future] Agrandizement [sic] - 2 their system of acquiring [struck: future] [inserted: vast] [struck: vast] [inserted: an immense] Revenue. 3 [inserted: and] Their Veins with Regard to Foreign Possessions and trade, -
This title sounds high and under the present state of the public Mind will awaken [struck: the] curiosity. Which Curiosity [inserted: before Reading] Will Conceive nothing But, a system of devestation [sic] Can arise from such [struck: Ideas] plans - This Curiosity will sieze [sic] them to Read, and then I hope they find that all those plans are Nursed In the Lap of humanity
I therefore Beg of you as the most particular favour [sic] that you will give it either to Debret or Stockdale Picadilly and order[struck: ed] [inserted: it] With the above title to be im[inserted: m]ediatly [sic] pinted [sic] = Extracts in the Newspapers m[inserted: e]arly [sic] Intimating that the french Were about to establish a System of Canals [5] to pass through all parts of the Republic and by which they ment [sic] to Rase [sic] a Revenue - would also perhaps be of Use in drawing the thoughts of Government to so great a Sourse [sic] of Riches - and teach them to think Less of Foreign possessions or duties on trade to Raise Revenues - I also wish the Letter to arrive in america [sic] before me in order that my Countrymen may feel that Europeans have some thoughts of Canal System and simple taxation - this Is indeed a great plan And [struck: In order] that I may be of all possible use in bringing it about it is necessary My opinion should have some Weight in america Some I believe it has but more Is necessary and such a Letter Introduced In the manner I have proposed Will add much to It. You [sic] expanded mind will see the true policy [6] Which the principles Contains - You will also [sic] see Why I am obliged to make use of [struck: them to] some Little private Policy and usher my Letter Into the World by mean of you In order to get it Read You know me two [sic] well to Impute thus to a vain Wish to appear In print, and you will [struck: Impute] [inserted: attribute] it to the true cause the desire to promote the public good by Introducing such public Improvements as I am Acquainted With -
To My Lady Stanhope Ladies Hester and Grizelda and my Lord M[illegible] Remember me kindly - Also to Mr Joice and Mr Preston Believing me very truly and Sincerely yours
Robert Fulton,
PS I shall sail for america In about a Month, Do not suffer the printer to Change the [7] title, or a single word In the Whole Letter - not that I think I cannot be mended but if they begin to alter the Chance is equal that they make it worse -

[docket]
Letters. to the Earl of Stanhope
From R. F.
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People: Fulton, Robert, 1765-1815
Stanhope, Charles Earl of, 1753-1816

Historical Era: The New Nation, 1783-1815

Subjects: InventorInventionInfrastructureCanalsCommerceMerchants and TradeTransportationTaxes or TaxationFinanceGovernment and CivicsFranceGlobal History and CivicsForeign Affairs

Sub Era: The Early Republic

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