May 24

SS Savannah

May 24, 1819 - Savannah

It was the first steamship in the world to cross the Atlantic.

The steamship Savannah was built in 1818 in New York as a sailing packet but was converted to a steamship after a Savannah shipping firm committed to buy it for transatlantic service. The ship was a 320-ton hybrid, equipped with a steam engine, paddlewheel and sails. The SS Savannah traveled to her namesake city in April 1819. President James Monroe took a ride the following month when he visited Savannah.

At 5 a.m. on May 24, the ship left on her historic voyage across the Atlantic. Because of the experimental nature, it carried no freight or passengers. It reached Liverpool on June 20 after 29 days, under steam for less than 90 hours. It would be years before steamships were economically practical, but the voyage proved that a steamship could cross the ocean.

No other American steamship would cross the Atlantic for almost 30 years after the historic voyage that began on May 24, 1819, Today in Georgia History.