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Robert Fulton (1765-1815) was an American engineer and inventor. He began as a portrait painter, and moved to England in 1787, where he focused his creativity on engineering challenges and became involved in a project to design a canal system. He was granted an English patent in 1794 for his first invention, a double inclined plane system for hauling canal boats over difficult terrain. He later developed plans for cast iron aqueducts and invented a mechanical dredge to speed the construction of canals. In 1791 he moved to France where he designed the torpedo carrying submarine Nautilus, and, in 1803, the first steamship. He returned to America and by 1807 had organized first commercial paddle steamer services on the Hudson River.
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