On September 16, 1620, the Mayflower left England. The Pilgrims braved rough seas and a harsh winter in search of religious freedom and founded the settlement of Plymouth.
Ordered by a Congressional Act in 1794, the first American ship to be christened the Constellation was launched on September 7, 1797. It was the first ship commissioned into the United States Navy; the first put to sea; and the first to fight, defeat, and capture an enemy vessel.
At the behest of his critics, Robert Fulton launched his steamboat from New York harbor on August 17, 1807. While many had their doubts, Fulton proved the commercial viability of steamboats, which would rule American waterways for the next half-century.