NYSED Logo
NYSL LOGO

Related Information

Battle of the Booklets, Part 2
William Duer vs, Cadwallader Colden

Colden Writes

Life of Robert Fulton
Colden's Life of Robert Fulton

Duer's book
Duer's reply

After Fulton’s death, and Duer continued – through big pamphlets, aka books – their discussion of who really invented the steamboat and whether the monopoly was just.

Colden's Life of Robert Fulton

Cadwallader Colden, born in Flushing, N.Y., was admitted to the bar in 1791, served as mayor of New York City and in the New York State Senate, and was intensely interested in navigation and internal improvements.

His biography of Fulton is considered to be an uncritical but detailed survey of the inventor’s career, which minimized the contributions of earlier pioneers in the field of steam navigation.

Colden, Cadwallader D.
The Life of Robert Fulton, by His Friend Cadwallader D. Colden. Read before the Literary and Philosophical Society of New-York. Comprising Some Account of the Invention, Progress, and Establishment of Steam-boats, of Improvements in the Construction and Navigation of Canals, and Other Objects of Public Utility. (New York: Published by Kirk & Mercein, 1817) New York State Library call number: N,609.2,F97

Duer's Reply

Duer countered with a 127-page letter which opens “Sir, An indispensable professional engagement of peculiar interest and importance, occupied so exclusively my attention, during the past summer, that I was prevented form perusing your biographical memoir of the late Mr. Fulton, for some weeks after its publication. But as soon as I had closed the volume, I resolved to address to you, through the medium of the press, a dispassionate remonstrance upon that part of your performance, which, from my peculiar share in the recommendation and support of the measures you there condemn, it seemed incumbent on me to answer.”

Duer, William Alexander. A Letter, Addressed to Cadwallader D. Colden, Esquire. In Answer to the Strictures, Contained in his "Life of Robert Fulton," upon the Report of the Select Committee, to Whom was Referred a Memorial Relative to Steam Navigation, Presented to the Legislature of New-York, at the Session of 1814. With an Appendix, Containing the Several Laws Concerning Steam Boars; the Petitions Presented for their Modification; and the Reports of Select Committees Thereupon, &c. &c. &c. (Albany: Printed and Published by E. and E. Hosford, 1817) New York State Library call number: N,387A