The Alliance Frigate and Fitch's Steamboat print, 1900
The first Alliance of the United States Navy was a 36-gun sailing frigate of the American Revolutionary War. Originally named Hancock, she was laid down in 1777 on the Merrimack River at Amesbury, Massachusetts, by the partners and cousins, William and James K. Hackett, launched on 28 April 1778, an...
|Collection:||Historical Society of Pennsylvania print collection (#V89)|
|Box Number:||Box 51|
|Folder Number:||Folder 9|
|Subjects and Genres:|
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The first Alliance of the United States Navy was a 36-gun sailing frigate of the American Revolutionary War. Originally named Hancock, she was laid down in 1777 on the Merrimack River at Amesbury, Massachusetts, by the partners and cousins, William and James K. Hackett, launched on 28 April 1778, and renamed Alliance on 29 May 1778 by resolution of the Continental Congress. Her first commanding officer was Capt. Pierre Landais, a former officer of the French Navy who had come to the New World hoping to become a naval counterpart of Lafayette. The frigate's first captain was widely accepted as such in America. Massachusetts made him an honorary citizen and the Continental Congress gave him command of Alliance, thought to be the finest warship built to that date on the western side of the Atlantic.
Fitch's steamboat was the first steamboat in North America. Designed by inventor John Fitch. Fitch had seen a drawing of an early British Newcomen atmospheric engine in an encyclopedia, but Newcomen engines were huge structures designed to pump water out of mines. He had somehow heard about the more efficient steam engine developed by James Watt in Scotland in the late 1770s, but there was not a single Watt engine in America at that time, nor would there be for many years (Fulton's exported model in his 1807 steamboat, Clermont, would be one of the first) because Britain would not allow the export of new technology to its former colony. Therefore, Fitch attempted to design his own version of a steam engine. He moved to Philadelphia and engaged the clockmaker and inventor Henry Voigt, to help him build a working model and place it on a boat. The first successful trial run of his steamboat "Perseverance" was made on the Delaware River on August 22, 1787, in the presence of delegates from the Constitutional Convention.