Fulton seeks Madison's support for a steam-powered warship. After the success of his first commercially successful steamboat (later known as the Clermont) which carried passengers between New York City and Albany, Fulton came up with numerous naval applications for the steam engine. In 1813 he submitted plans to Madison for a steam warship, an idea supported by the Secretary of the Navy and several influential captains. The project was authorized by Congress in March 1814, and Fulton was placed in charge of it. When she was commissioned in June 1815, the Demologus (later called the Fulton I), was the first steam frigate in any navy in the world. Intended for use as a harbor defense vessel for New York City, the War of 1812 ended before she was ready for service, and she blew up in 1829 in an accidental explosion.
In the present letter, Fulton is "... extremely anxious to commence a work which if executed as I hope it will be I am certain will produce consequences most agreeable to you and important for the nation, but I have not yet heard from the secretary of the Navy giving me orders to proceed or where to find funds." He is secretive about his project, never mentioning it explicitly. He goes on to propose financing at 7% if the federal government cannot supply funds from the treasury.
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