Clipper ships were long, narrow ships built for speed and quick travel. They were composed of tall masts and multiple sails, which enabled them to fare very quickly on open seas. In many cases, clippers could travel much faster than steamboats; however, this was not entirely a good thing because in return for alacrity, the clipper ships of the 1800s sacrificed valuable cargo space. Regardless, they still were functional in that they effectively transported tea from China to America and small goods to California. Ultimately, though, clipper ships only lasted about 20 years because of their limited cargo space. They were no match against the freight-compatible steamboat that Fulton invented, no matter how fast the clippers could travel.
Sources: 4, Clipper Ships More Information