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Press Release

Bard College Two-Day Symposium on June 1 & 2 Focuses on Bicentennial of the Steamboat

Emily Darrow

ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y.—The Friends of Clermont, in partnership with Bard College and the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation, has organized a scholarly symposium on June 1 and 2 to mark the 200th anniversary of the steamboat and the successful collaboration of Robert Fulton and Robert R. Livingston.

Fulton, in partnership with Livingston, designed the first commercially viable steamboat. It made its maiden voyage on August 17, 1807, in a trip up the Hudson River from New York City to Albany, stopping at Livingston’s home, Clermont (now the State Historic Site).

The symposium begins at Bard College on Friday, June 1, with presentations at Manor House, followed by a reception that afternoon at Clermont State Historic Site, including tours of the exhibition, Bobs’ Folly: Inventing America’s First Practical Steamboat. A keynote dinner is held on Friday evening at the Stissing House in Pine Plains, New York. On Saturday, June 2, the symposium reconvenes at Bard College and continues through the early afternoon.

Symposium chair and Bard professor Nancy Leonard notes that “more than a dozen speakers are presenting original scholarship on various aspects of the history of steam navigation in America during the two days.” Distinguished historians, both academic and independent, offer papers on a variety of topics, including the “Livingston-Fulton Steamboat Monopoly”; “Steamboats and Movement in Slavery and Freedom”; “Technology of Steam Navigation”; “Robert Fulton in Paris”; “Transportation”; “Revolution/Market Revolution”; “Lake Champlain Steamer Ticonderoga”; “Moses Rogers and the Savannah”; and “Pilots, Passengers, and Perilous Pioneers.”

The keynote dinner, on Friday, June 1, will be at the Stissing House, an 18th-century restaurant and tavern, that has hosted such notables as George Washington and the Marquis de Lafayette. The speaker, Merritt Roe Smith, is a distinguished historian of technology and author of many volumes; his book, Harper’s Ferry Armory and the New Technology (1977), was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in History.

Nancy Leonard, professor of English at Bard, is the symposium chair. Myra Young Armstead, professor of history at Bard; Christopher Lindner, archaeologist in residence and director of the Bard Archaeology Field School; and Gregory Moynahan, assistant professor of history at Bard, are members of the symposium planning committee and speakers at the event.

The Friends of Clermont is a private, not-for-profit, educational organization whose goal is to support and supplement the education and historic preservation programs at Clermont State Historic Site. Clermont, which is administered by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation, was the Hudson River seat of seven successive generations of the prominent Livingston family between 1728 and 2000. Clermont is located on the east shore of the Hudson River, one mile north of the Village of Tivoli.

The cost of the symposium is $50 for both days or $25 for a single day. A full list of speakers, program schedule, and directions to Bard College and the Stissing House is sent with the registration confirmation. There is an additional $30 per person charge for attendance at the keynote dinner and this is available separately from the conference sessions.

To register, call 518-537-4240 daily, between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.

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[Editor's note: Click on image above, to download high-resolution (300 dpi) jpeg. Link to brochure and registration information.]

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This event was last updated on 06-28-2007