GA-24-44 William Scarbrough Promoter of the first Transocanic Steamship


William Scarbrough (1776- 1838) was he moving force among the enterprising business men of Savannah who in 1819 sent the first steamship across the Atlantic Ocean. The corporate charter which Scarbrough and his associates obtained from the Georgia Legislature in 1818 recited that "they have formed themselves into an association, under the style and name of the Savannah Steam Ship Company, to attach, either as auxiliary or principal, the propulsion of steam to sea vessels, for the purpose of navigating the Atlantic and other oceans...."

The side-wheel steamship "SAVANNAH," a vessel of 350 tons, was built in the North under specifications of Scarbrough and his business associates. She steamed from Savannah May 22, 1819, on her epoch-making voyage to Europe, reaching Liverpool 27 days later.

William Scarbrough was the son of a wealthy planter of the Beaufort District, S.C. Educated in Europe, he moved to Savannah about 1798 and soon attained a leading place in the life of the community, becoming one of Savannah`s so-called "Merchant Princes" of the era. The handsome Scarbrough residence, which still stands on West Broad Street, was a center of the social life of the city. There William Scarbrough and his vibrant wife, Julia Bernard Scarbrough (1786- 1851), entertained President James Monroe as a house guest in 1819.

025-44 Georgia Historical Commission 1957

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