John Fitch (1743-1798), an American inventor who made the first successful trial of a steamboat on the Delaware River on August 22, 1787, in the presence of members of the Constitutional Convention. Fitch designed and built a number of different steamboats with engines that had features of both James Watt and Thomas Newcomen's steam engines. Fitch's models utilized various combinations of propulsive force, including ranked paddles (patterned after Indian war canoes), paddle wheels, and screw propellers. While his boats were mechanically successful, Fitch was not successful at developing the steamboat on a commercial scale. After Fitch's death, Robert Fulton built his first boat, and it was Fulton who became known as the "father of steam navigation" when his steamboat became a commercial success.
Innovators: John Fitch (PBS Online)
The History of Steamboats (About.com)
Westcott, Thompson, 1857. The Life of John Fitch: The Inventor of the Steam Boat. (University of Rochester)