Ericsson, John


1851 ALS by the marine engineer and inventor, designed and built 1st US ironclad ship, “USS Monitor”



Autograph ID: 6595
Condition: Very good, light red pencil check mark at top left.
Description: (1803-1889) Swedish-American marine engineer and inventor, Ericsson’s outstanding role in the development of the screw propeller (he patented one in 1836) for ships was responsible for his coming to America in 1839 to build for the US navy. The USS Princeton, completed by him in 1844, was the first warship with a screw propeller. Unfortunately, one of the ship’s guns, which he did not build, exploded and killed several dignitaries, Ericsson unjustly blamed for the disaster. He is chiefly remembered as the designer and builder of the USS Monitor (launched Jan. 30, 1862), a radical departure from previous types; its battle with the CSA ironclad Virginia (or, Merrimac) during the Civil War, less than 5 months after its keel was laid, made Ericsson a national hero and changed naval warfare. With associates he spent the remainder of the War designing and building other ironclad vessels, and after the War he built them for other governments until the type was abandoned. He constructed gunboats for Spain, and worked on a “destroyer” with successful devices for releasing torpedoes underwater, but he could not interest the US government in it. Ericsson made many contributions to engineering, notably in ordnance, in marine engines, and in caloric or heat engines. In his late years he did experimental work in solar physics.

ALS “J. Ericsson” o n7 3/4 x 5 light blue-lined paper, no place, December 2 1851, to an unknown correspondent, perhaps a colleague or employee, with business content. Ericsson asks him to attend to “the enclosed” (not present) from Dublin and has no doubt that “the object is punishing and of course you will ask particulars as to quantity and freight.” Ericsson asks him to return a letter and if his correspondent has made any allusions as to its content, etc. At bottom and continuing on the verso is an initialed “J. E.” postscript. In it, Ericsson notes he has much pleasure in adding that I have just returned from an inspection of a sugar cane roller ready for shipment…” and an agent “…will send for sugar cane from New Orleans which we shall get at about the time I can have the driving gear ready for operation.” He adds: “This matter has a strong smell of business” [underscored]. Ericsson’s penmanshiop presents quite a challenge.
Type: Letter

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