The Swedish engineer and warship designer signs his name on this
letter from 1874
Manuscript letter signed: "J. Ericsson" with 26-word
holograph postscript, 1¾p, 8x11. New York, 1874 June 12. To Chief
Engineer E. Lawton, U.S.N., San Francisco. In full: "Accept my
cordial thanks for your friendly letter of 31st May. A moments (sic)
reflection will convince you that it would not be proper to take any notice of
Mr. White's blunder. Nor can you fail to see that, if he had mentioned my name,
he would now be the laughing stock of the world - Specially of the European
world. It is known in proper quarters that I have successfully constructed over
one thousand different engines and machines, all requiring thorough
practical knowledge. The severe nature of my practical training is also
recorded in history - It is known, among other facts, that my mentor, Count
Platen, passed me through the ordeal of handling the pickaxe, shovel, sledge
hammer, plane and trowel in order to fit me for civil engineering. Accept my
best wishes for a continuance of your health and prosperity." He adds, in
his own hand: "P.S. Pray tell me, at your leisure, if the U.S. Iron Clads
now under your charge, are in a fit condition to fight, at a week's notice."
Swedish-born engineer JOHN ERICSSON (1803-1889) was called in to design an
iron-clad warship for the Union after Northern leaders heard that the South was
attempting to raise the Merrimac from the Norfolk harbor and convert the
ship into an armor-clad vessel. Ericsson had designed the U.S.S.
Princeton, the first warship driven by a screw propeller. It carried
a 12-inch gun -- the largest forged for the U.S. Navy at the time. Ericsson did
not design that gun, but on February 28, 1844 President Tyler and a party of 200
were cruising aboard the ship. The gun, fired in a demonstration, exploded,
killing amongst others Secretary of State Upshur and Secretary of the Navy
Gilmer. Ericsson had worked on designs for iron-clad vessels as early as 1854
and built the Monitor with several distinct features. The
Monitor, which was built of iron rather than wood, featured a circular
revolving turret, relied solely on steam power and utilized a screw propeller
for power rather than a paddle-wheel. The battle between the Monitor
and the Merrimac took place on March 9, 1862 at Hampton Roads, Virginia.
The Monitor's victory ushered in a new era in naval warship design and
construction. 3¼-inch vertical tape repair on second page affects 1 word on
postscript and 7 words on first page (all paper intact), light show through. The
signature and postscript are lightly penned. Creased. Folds, vertical fold just
touches the "E" in Ericsson. Slight separations at blank edges at horizontal
folds. Blank integral leaf is soiled.
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