Steamboat Adventure
Made possible by the Rivers Institute and the History Department of Hanover College.

Spring 1812

The steamboat New Orleans' 1811-1812  trip down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers from Pittsburgh to New Orleans marked a turning point in the Transportation Revolution.  After the New Orleans showed that it could be done, steamboats proliferated on the Ohio and the Mississippi and their tributaries.  Steamboat traffic helped create a national economy, opening markets for farm goods and drawing people and commerce to cities along the rivers.  The items below were published in Spring, 1812, and they provide context for understanding the Roosevelts' "steamboat adventure."  (Note that newspaper editors often reprinted stories that appeared earlier elsewhere.)

By April, the New Orleans had established a regular circuit from New Orleans to Natchez, providing considerable profit to her owners.  She continued that service until 1814 when she sank after having hit a submerged stump.

Mar. 3, 1812, Liberty Hall - detailed report of the Dec. 16 earthquake as experienced on a boat about 300 miles downriver from the New Orleans
Mar. 6, 1812, Pittsburgh Gazette - the New Orleans makes a trial run of the New Orleans-Natchez trip on Jan. 23; a "gentleman passenger of correct information" gives details
Mar. 7, 1812, Niles Weekly Register - lengthy summary of scientific observations of the comet
Mar. 13, 1812, Pittsburgh Gazette - James Smith provides revisions for The Navigator on the Mississippi River's "wonderful changes for the worse" because of the earthquake
Mar. 14, 1812, Western Spy - eyewitnesses report that nearby Little Prairie is now entirely under water
Mar. 20, 1812, Pittsburgh Gazette - John Vertner gives eyewitness account of experiencing the Feb. 7 "hard shock" in New Madrid
Mar. 21, 1812, Western Spy - Mr. Carter of Cincinnati writes of continuing earthquake-related problems on the river: boats destroyed and people killed
Mar. 21, 1812, Louisiana Gazette - report on various tribes' alignment against or for the United States after the Battle of Tippecanoe (and earthquake news)
Mar. 21, 1812, Louisiana Gazette - earthquake damage includes a road near Spring River "entirely destroyed"
Mar. 21, 1812, Louisiana Gazette - the Winnebago are attacking Fort Madison, with the Potawatomi and Kickapoo expected to join them soon
Mar. 21, 1812, Louisiana Gazette - the Potawatomi hide their losses from the Battle of Tippecanoe
Apr. 4, 1812, Western Spy - Jesse Hunt gives eyewitness account of February's earthquake damage from New Madrid to what is now Memphis, Tenn.
Apr. 10, 1812, Pittsburgh Gazette - overview of momentous events in 1811
Apr. 11, 1812, Louisiana Gazette - white settlers fire on Potawatomi, Kickapoo, and Chippewa delegates to peace conference
May 2, 1812, Louisiana Gazette - federal law on licensing steamboats
May 16, 1812, Louisville Gazette - scalping near present-day Seymour, Indiana
May 16, 1812, Louisville Gazette - the editor argues that "British are the authors of our present difficulties" with Indians who are committing atrocities
May 16, 1812, Louisville Gazette - Haryman family killed by Indians on the Embarras River, in Illinois Territory
May 23, 1812, Louisville Gazette - Indians kill whites near Chicago, along the Mississippi River, and in Ohio
May 30, 1812, Louisville Gazette - Indians kill John M'Gowan, near Vincennes (in present-day Indiana)
May 30, 1812, Louisville Gazette - Nathan Heald letter to William Wells, reporting on the scalping of Liberty White and John Cardin
May 30, 1812, Louisville Gazette - John Lalime letter to William Wells, reporting on the scalping of Liberty White and John Cardin

May 1812, Monthly Magazine and Literary Journal - a "retrospect" of 1811, including the comet, the earthquake, and the Battle of Tippecanoe

More about the "Steamboat Adventure" of 1811-1812 --



Steamboat Adventure homepage


Spring 1811
Summer 1811
Fall 1811
Winter 1811-1812
Spring 1812


Louisville (Kentucky) and Madison (Indiana Territory)
New Madrid (now in Missouri)
Chickasaw Bluffs (now Memphis)
New Orleans


Nicholas and Lydia Roosevelt
The Transportation Revolution
The Great Comet of 1811
The New Madrid Earthquakes
Indian Relations

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