The great deeds done by men of old, and the accumulated discoveries of the ancient sages, have all been surpassed in the last half century. Before the year 1800, there was not a single steamboat in existence, and the application of steam to machinery was unknown. Fulton launched the first steamboat in 1807; now there are three thousand steamboats traversing the waters of America, and the time saved in travel is equal to seventy per cent, and every river in the world is a highway for their encroachments. In 1800 the word "railroad" had not been coined, and to travel forty mfflss antro-arwasaulmpossibility. In the United States there are now some twenty-five thousand miles of railroad, costing in the neighborhood of seven hundred and fifty millions of dollars, and about thirty-seven thousand miles of railroad in England and America. The locomotive will now travel in as many hours a distance which in 1800 required as many days to accomplish. In 1800 it took two weeks to convey intelligence between Philadelphia and New Orle4ns, now it can be accomplished in minutes by the electric telegraph, which only had its beginning in 1843.
This article was originally published with the title "Progress of the Age" in Scientific American 13, 10, 73 (November 1857)