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Robert Fulton is famous for the invention of the steam boat. He and Robert Livingston built the Clermont which steamed up the Hudson River in New York. Its historical significance is that it allowed river traffic to travel upstream, which had previously not been possible. The major port for western agricultural production had been New Orleans. Goods were floated downstream by barge to that city where the barge was usually sold for firewood. With the advent of the steamboat, goods could be shipped upstream (northward) where they could connect with the canal systems and Great Lakes system. The end result was a shift in the economic capital of the U.S. from New Orleans to the ports of the Northeast. This, together with the advent of the railroads and canals meant that the South and New Orleans were only important in terms of agricultural development.
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