Logbook for First Transatlantic Steamship Savannah, 1819

Logbook for First Transatlantic Steamship Savannah, 1819

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The 1818 steamboat Savannah was the first steamship to cross the Atlantic Ocean. It was built as a sailing vessel in New York, measuring 98 feet in length and 320 tons. During construction, sidewheel paddle steam propulsion machinery was added under the oversight of the ship's captain, Moses Rogers. Savannah was purchased by a shipping company in Savannah, Georgia. While in Georgia awaiting its first ocean voyage, President James Monroe excursioned aboard the vessel and was so impressed he asked the owners to send it to Washington, D.C. for inspection and possible purchase by the U.S. Government.
On May 24 1819, Savannah cleared port under steam for Liverpool, England. However, its owners had so little faith in the success of the voyage that not a single passenger or cargo item was aboard. Over the next 29-1/2 days to Liverpool, the engine was deployed for only about 80 hours due to the limited amount of coal the ship could carry. Savannah's engine was removed in 1820, and the ship served as a coastal packet ship until 1821, when it ran aground at Long Island, NY and was lost.
Heavily restored, Savannah's logbook recorded the vessel's travel from 28 March when the steamboat left New York for Savannah to 17 December 1819, when it was in Washington, D.C. The logbook is covered with stained sailcloth–a heavy, stitched canvas believed to be from the original sails of the famous steamship.
Currently not on view
Object Name
Other Terms
logbook; Maritime
date made
overall: 21 1/2 in x 15 in x 3/4 in; 54.61 cm x 38.1 cm x 1.905 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
Gift of Mrs. Sarah A. Ward
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Work and Industry: Maritime
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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