London: I. and J. Taylor, 1796. First ediion. 17 Black and white plates. Half calf and marbled boards. Quarto. xvi, 144, [1 leaf advertisement], 17 plates. Near fine. An uncut copy in a tasteful 20th century binding. Partial old gilt-stamped spine title label retained.
Robert Fulton, American engineer and later inventor of the first successful river steamboat, here presents his grand plan for the development and operation of a network of small inland waterways in the newly independent United States.
Fulton favored small boats and short inclined railroads rather than locks as a way of raising or lowering them for changes in elevation.
President George Washington received a copy of this work and wrote a letter to Fulton acknowledging it in December of 1796. Some of Fulton's ideas influenced national policy in subsequent decades as the new nation sought to connect its disparate sections.
This first edition has a London imprint because Fulton had initially gone there to pursue a career in painting, but received more encouragement to channel his efforts into engineering. He established himself as a civil engineer with this work, as he notes on the title page, and he did the illustrations of mechanical designs and canal devices herein himself.
A full page description of this book by an earlier bookseller--the legendary Kenneth Nebenzahl--is laid in.
Howes F418; Sabin 26201.