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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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Born: July 31, 1803 in LĂ„ngbanshyttan, VĂ€rmland, Sweden
Died: March 8, 1889 in New York City, New York

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