World History 1783

About the history of the world in 1783, first steamboat in history, the year of balloons and ballooning.

TWO CENTURIES OF WORLD HISTORY: 1778-1978

1783

July 15 The first successful steamboat, the 138 ft. wooden paddle-wheeler Pyroscaphe, built near Lyons France by Marquis Claude Jouffroy d'Abbans, made a trial run on the River Saone, becoming the first vessel to move against the current under its own power.

Aug. 27 J.A.C. Charles, French physicist, tested the first hydrogen balloon, without passengers. It climbed to 3,000 ft. and came down in a field 15 mi. from Paris, where it was torn to pieces by French peasants who thought it was an evil spirit or the moon broken loose. King Louis XVI issued a proclamation forbidding his subjects to damage experimental balloons.

Sept. In the courtyard at Versailles, while King Louis XVI and Benjamin Franklin watched, Jacques and Joseph Montgolfier, sons of a wealthy paper manufacturer, sent up a hot-air balloon that safely carried the first air passengers a duck and a rooster, on an eight-minute flight.

Oct. 15 In another Montgolfier balloon, attached by rope to the ground, Jean Pilatre de Rozier, Louis XVI's historian, became the first human to leave the earth in a five-minute flight that reached an altitude of 80 ft. A month later Pilatre de Rozier was joined by the Marquis d'Arlandes in the first unattached manned flight, ascending 300 ft. in their 25 minutes aloft. The hot-air balloons of the Montgolfiers were dangerous, because the air could be kept heated only at the risk of setting the bag afire.

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