Steamboat Barnet

Cast of Characters

Source information and additional details about images used throughout the Steamboat Barnet site are available on the Image Credits page.

People and Companies

John Quincy Adams

Adams, John Quincy
1825 – 1829

Sixth president of the U.S. from Massachusetts.

Barnet

Barnet
1826 – 1829

Built by Brown and Bell shipbuilders of New York, the steamboat Barnet was seventy-five feet long. The Barnet navigated the rapids at Enfield Falls continued up the Connecticut River, steamed by Northampton and Greenfield in Massachusetts, and onto Brattleboro, Vermont… more

Boston & Worcester

Boston & Worcester Railroad
1831

This venture was chartered in 1831 to build a rail line connecting Boston and Worcester, Massachusetts. It was completed in 1835.
Construction began in August 1832 and the line opened in sections — to Newton on April 16, 1833; to Wellesley on July 3, 1833; to Ashland on September 20, 1833; to Westborough in November 1834; and in Worcestor on July 6, 1835.

Calhoun, John C

Calhoun, John C.
1782 – 1850

Senator from South Carolina during the 1800’s, who supported the American system.
Calhoun served as President Monroe’s secretary of war. Calhoun initially supported the American system to protect fledgling American industry and support commerce. He withdrew his support when the South Carolina economy became dependent on cotton production because the protective tariff—an important component of the American System—was contrary to the economic welfare of the state.

Clay, Henry

Clay, Henry
1777 – 1852

A Kentucky politician who served in the Kentucky State Legislature and as Speaker of the House of Representatives, Clay was identified with the American System and as a spokesman for Western interests. Clay supported the “American System,” President Monroe’s proposal to unify the country through a protective tariff, internal improvements such as roads and canals, and the creation of a national bank… more

Connecticut River Company

Connecticut River Company
1824

Hartford business leaders founded the company in response to commercial rivals in New Haven, and in 1824 the company commissioned Brown and Bell, a New York shipbuilder, to build a steamboat that could navigate the rapids between Hartford and Springfield. The steamboat Barnet made its successful maiden voyage to Springfield in 1826, thereby assuring the continued commercial viability of Springfield and Hartford.

Fitch, John

Fitch, John
1743 – 1798

On August 22, 1787, with delegates from the Constitutional Convention meeting in Philadelphia observing, Fitch’s steamboat navigated the waters of the Delaware River. Fitch operated the vessel, which had a capacity of thirty passengers, between Philadelphia and Burlington, New Jersey and hoped to make the venture profitable, but shortcomings with both his patent (1791)and his business skills led investors to pull out of his company and the business failed. It was Robert Fulton who demonstrated the commercial viability of steam powered vessels.

Fulton, Robert

Fulton, Robert
1765 – 1815

U.S. inventor and engineer of the first commercially successful U.S. steamboat, the Clermont (1807).
The Clermont was based on the ideas of John Fitch. In 1807, Fulton successfully tested his vessel on the Hudson River; thereafter he won the right to operate steamboats on Hudson and on other rivers in New York State, as well as on the lower Mississippi.

Lathrop, Samuel

Lathrop, Samuel
1772 – 1846

Samuel Lathrop was a member of the Massachusetts State Senate before he served four successive terms in the U.S. Congress. Returning to his home state, he presided over the Massachusetts Senate in 1829 and 1830. At the conclusion of the Barnet’s historic journey, Samuel Lathrop was toasted as “the firm, undeviating friend of internal improvement.”… more

Lathrop, William

Lathrop, William

William Lathrop was born in Springfield to a prominent Connecticut River Valley family. His Letters with his father, Samuel Lathrop, a congressional leader at the time, provides a record of the steamboat Barnet’s maiden voyage in 1826… more

Madison, James

Madison, James
1751 – 1836

The fourth president of the United States, Monroe proposed the American System to develop the national economy. His successor, James Madison, took steps to launch the program.

Monroe, James

Monroe, James
1817 – 1825

The fifth president of the United States, Monroe backed the American System, which included the investment of federal dollars in the construction of new roads and canals and the improvement of harbors.

Morey, Samuel

Morey, Samuel
1762 – 1843

An Orford, New Hampshire inventor, Morey launched the first steamboat on The Connecticut River. From 1780 to 1830, Morey experimented with steam to propel boats, taking out various patents for steam machinery… more

Palmer, Roderick

Palmer, Roderick

A widely known river boatman from West Springfield, Captain Palmer was in command of Barnet when the steamboat embarked on her maiden voyage in 1826.

Western Railroad

Western Railroad
1833 – 1841

Established in 1833, the Western Railroad was to connect the Boston & Worcester Railroad with the Hudson and Berkshire Railroad, which in turn would reach the New York State line. Work began from both sides and the rail line was opened in stages, which finally met in 1841.

Places

Greenfield

Greenfield
1820 – 1860

An area along the banks of the Connecticut River Greenfield was called cheapside by locals.

Connecticut River

Connecticut River

The Connecticut River is the largest river in New England, flowing 407 miles from its source near the Canadian border in the Connecticut Lakes to its mouth at Long Island Sound. The river forms most of the border between New Hampshire and Vermont, and flows through western Massachusetts and central Connecticut.

Hartford

Hartford
1635

Established in 1635 on the banks of the Connecticut River in Connecticut, by the first quarter of the nineteenth century, Hartford had become an important commercial center linked to Springfield, Massachusetts and through New York City, to the markets of the world. Hartford benefited from the development of canals and improvements in river transport such as steamboats. The successful passage of the steamboat Barnet through the Enfield Rapids north of the city meant the progress and commercial expansion that would contribute to Hartford’s continued growth during the Industrial Revolution.

New Haven

New Haven
Est. 1638

Established in 1638 on the banks of the Connecticut River in Connecticut, New Haven grew as a center of learning with the establishment of Yale College (1701), and in the late eighteenth century with the manufacture of guns, clocks, and hardware, and . Early in the nineteenth century the city’s commercial leaders, hoping to steal some of the river traffic from Hartford, built the short-lived and commercially unsuccessful Farmington Canal (1834) to link their city with Northampton in Massachusetts.

Northampton

Northampton
Est. 1654

Established in 1654, the Pocumtuc natives called the area that became Northampton, Massachusetts “Norwottuck,” or “Nonotuck,” which means “the midst of the river.” The Connecticut River linked Northampton to Springfield and Hartford, and trade among the three cities grew rapidly. In 1835, seeking a bigger slice of the river trade, New Haven merchants backed the construction of a canal linking their city with Northampton. However, the canal was shortlived and rail lines replaced it.

Springfield

Springfield
founded 1636

Founded in 1636, Springfield, Massachusetts is located in the center of the Pioneer Valley on the Connecticut River; less than five years later the city’s founder (William Pynchon) was in the business of exporting barrels of salt pork to England. George Washington chose one of Springfield’s bluffs as the site of the new nation’s armory. The choice was strategic—the city’s location was far enough upriver to halt all but the most ambitious assaults from the sea—and the Springfield Armory grew into a major manufacturer and employer. In the nineteenth century, with the Industrial Revolution Springfield became a hive of precision manufacturing and invention, and a hub of river and rail transport.

West Indies

West Indies
1765 – 1815

The West Indies, a region located to the southeast of the United States, consists of thousands of islands in the Caribbean Sea. The West Indies rapidly became a major trading partner to the American colonies and in the nineteenth century, cities in the Pioneer Valley shipped products such as fish and distilled liquors to the West Indies in exchange for spices, sugar, and other goods. The Connecticut River was a major artery linking the two locations.

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