John Laurence Busch, author of the just-released book, Steam Coffin~Captain Moses Rogers and the Steamship Savannah Break the Barrier, will be the speaker at the 14 November, Second Sunday lecture for the New London County Historical Society. The presentation will be given at the event room of the Harbor Towers, 461 Bank Street, in New London.
New London native son Moses Rogers gained his lasting renown as the captain of the first steamship to cross the Atlantic, this work details how that amazing feat was achieved. Rogers was not only the captain, but the champion as well, of the idea that such a venture was even possible. National Maritime Day, recognizing the contributions of America’s merchant mariners, is declared by the President each year on 22 May, the anniversary of Rogers’s departure from Savannah, Georgia, on his voyage.
“The greatest obstacle to building an ocean-going steam vessel in 1818 was overcoming the predominant doubt as to how such a craft could prevail against the incalculable, unpredictable powers of Nature at sea.” Fulton’s first successful steamboat venture was created on the Hudson River only eleven years earlier. Building a craft with the strength to cross the ocean seemed foolhardy at best and wasting precious cargo space to store sufficient fuel for such a long voyage seemed folly. Wooden paddlewheels on the side of the ship, the only technology available at the time, made any such vessel vulnerable to heavy seas.
Rogers and his syndicate were able to face and overcome these difficulties and more. Rogers was the first to venture out of the safety of a river body with a steamboat and proved his abilities in Charleston and Savannah, Georgia. His partners were some of the first to try the new “corporate” business structure. And they found a buyer for the ship once it crossed the Atlantic.
Busch scoured archives and libraries from Savannah, Georgia, to Portland, Maine, in search of information for this 700 page volume. Some of his research was conducted at the New London County Historical Society and at Mystic Seaport.
This meeting of the Historical Society will be hosted by Anthony Silvestri, project manager of New London Harbour Towers, who remarked, “We are always looking for creative ways to collaborate with the community.” The program will begin at 3 PM; refreshments will be served. The program is free for members of the Historical Society and Harbor Tower residents; there is a $5 fee for others. Copies of the book are available for sale for $35 at the Shaw Mansion, and at the program.
For more information please call 860.443.1209 or email <edward at newlondonhistory.org>.