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Didn't Fitch use a screw prop? He's credited with inventing an unsuccessful 1 c1804. Trekphiler 16:58 & Trekphiler 21:36, 2 December 2005 (UTC)
There are drawings in Fitchs' papers showing a screw like propellor for his 1787 boat, but I believe the concept was dropped because the design produced more bubbles than thrust. (See Autobiography by Praeger). There are also stories of a screw propellor being used in a later boat in 1793, but this story is questionable being traced to a lithograpgh about John Fitch and a story relayed by a man named, Hutchings. There are questions whether Fitch ever demonstrated a boat on a pond in NY in 1793. PBS also did a great segment on Fitch in a program called "They Made America", its the best 20 minute segment done to date on Fitch. The segment mentions the screw propellor idea. A replica of Fitch's 1787 boat was made for the production. They only exception I take with the piece is the comment that Fitch committed suicide in 1798. This is inconclusive.
My research into Fitch shows there are many different accounts surrounding the circumstances of his death. A lot of articles I have seen have stated that Fitch commited suicide, while other books and articles have stated that this observation is incorrect, and that Fitch did not commit suicide but actually died of complications due to his excessive drinking. I have traced this to a book published in the 1930's by a man named Boyd. There is a story that Fitch swallowed an overdose of opium pills. The Wescott book (1857)says he even swallowed 12 opium pills. But the fact is someone would have had to have been there to know this kind of detail about his death, a witness or a suicide note perhaps. The source given by Boyd is an early biographer named Whittlesey. Whittlesey's article (around 1848?) does not contain a story of Fitch taking opium pills, let alone, 12 opium pills. Whittlesey writes in a style and refers to taking a poison. But I have questions, as to whether "poison" may refer to alcohol in the context that a prohibitionist would refer to drinking, and alcohol as an evil in society. Whittlesey may be referring to Fitchs' excessive drinking as a way of poisoning himself. Roscoe Conklin Fitch, a descendant of Fitch, did some research around 1901 or 1903 and was never able to confirm the validity of the story that Fitch committed suicide.The most recent book to take the no suicide position is the Sutcliffe book published around 2004/2005.
The reason this may be important is that I have heard US Naval vessels cannot be named after persons who have committed suicide. Anyone know anything about this? I know of at least one local historical society that wanted to see if they could get folks in PA,KY,NJ,and CT to form a committee to get the US Navy to name a vessel after John Fitch.—Preceding unsigned comment added by 220.127.116.11 (talk • contribs)
Regarding US Naval vessels cannot be named after persons who have committed suicide, James Forrestal is thought to have died by suicide and the aircraft carrier USS Forrestal was commissioned after his death. If you think about it many ships are named after those who fell in combat many acts of valor are discretionary. Starrymessenger (talk) 21:25, 16 August 2008 (UTC)