Skip to main content



SAVANNAH. In May and June 1819, the SS Savannah became the first steam-powered ship to cross the Atlantic Ocean. The Savannah was the idea of steamboat captain Moses Rogers, who convinced Savannah, Georgia, entrepreneurs to back the venture. The Speedwell Iron Works at Morristown, New Jersey, built the engine.

The Savannah was a 100-foot-long packet ship fitted with steam boilers, a seventeen-foot smokestack, and paddle wheels that could be collapsed and taken on deck in case of a storm. The Savannah also had three masts and full sail rigging in case of a boiler malfunction.

Rogers took the ship to sea on 22 May 1819. It reached England in twenty-nine days without incident. While the Savannah had spent much of its time under sail, it had proved such a design could safely cross an ocean. However, not until 1838 did anyone attempt another steam crossing.

The Savannah spawned several namesakes: a U.S. Navy cruiser that served in World War II; an oiler used from 1970 to 1995; and, in 1959, the first nuclear-powered merchant ship.


Braynard, Frank O. Famous American Ships. New York: Hastings House, 1978.

Historic Speedwell. Homepage at

Philip, Cynthia Owen. Robert Fulton: A Biography. New York: Watts, 1955.

R. StevenJones

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Savannah." Dictionary of American History. . 20 Jul. 2018 <>.

"Savannah." Dictionary of American History. . (July 20, 2018).

"Savannah." Dictionary of American History. . Retrieved July 20, 2018 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.