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John Stevens (inventor)

John Stevens (inventor)

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Encyclopedia
Col. John Stevens, III (1749 - March 6, 1838) was an American lawyer, engineer and an inventor.

Life and career


Born the son of John Stevens
John Stevens (New Jersey)
John Stevens was a prominent politician from New Jersey who served as a delegate to the Continental Congress in 1783....

 (1715–1792), a prominent New Jersey
New Jersey
New Jersey is a state in the Northeastern and Middle Atlantic regions of the United States. , its population was 8,791,894. It is bordered on the north and east by the state of New York, on the southeast and south by the Atlantic Ocean, on the west by Pennsylvania and on the southwest by Delaware...

 politician who served as a delegate to the Continental Congress
Continental Congress
The Continental Congress was a convention of delegates called together from the Thirteen Colonies that became the governing body of the United States during the American Revolution....

, and Elizabeth Alexander, daughter of New York lawyer and statesman James Alexander
James Alexander (lawyer)
James Alexander was a lawyer and statesman in colonial New York. He served in the Colonial Assembly and as Attorney General of the colony in 1721-1723. His son William was later a Major General in the Continental Army during the American revolution...

. His sister, Mary Stevens (d. 1814), married Robert R. Livingston, the first Chancellor of the State of New York.

He graduated King's College (which became Columbia University
Columbia University
Columbia University in the City of New York is a private, Ivy League university in Manhattan, New York City. Columbia is the oldest institution of higher learning in the state of New York, the fifth oldest in the United States, and one of the country's nine Colonial Colleges founded before the...

) in May 1768.

At age 27 he was appointed a Captain in Washington
George Washington
George Washington was the dominant military and political leader of the new United States of America from 1775 to 1799. He led the American victory over Great Britain in the American Revolutionary War as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army from 1775 to 1783, and presided over the writing of...

's army, and was afterwards treasurer of New Jersey
New Jersey
New Jersey is a state in the Northeastern and Middle Atlantic regions of the United States. , its population was 8,791,894. It is bordered on the north and east by the state of New York, on the southeast and south by the Atlantic Ocean, on the west by Pennsylvania and on the southwest by Delaware...

, and bought at public auction
Public auction
A public auction is an auction held on behalf of a government in which the property to be auctioned is either property owned by the government, or property which is sold under the authority of a court of law or a government agency with similar authority....

 from the state of New Jersey land which had been confiscated from a Tory
Tory
Toryism is a traditionalist and conservative political philosophy which grew out of the Cavalier faction in the Wars of the Three Kingdoms. It is a prominent ideology in the politics of the United Kingdom, but also features in parts of The Commonwealth, particularly in Canada...

 landowner. The land, described as "William Bayard's farm at Hoebuck" comprised approximately what is now the city of Hoboken
Hoboken, New Jersey
Hoboken is a city in Hudson County, New Jersey, United States. As of the 2010 United States Census, the city's population was 50,005. The city is part of the New York metropolitan area and contains Hoboken Terminal, a major transportation hub for the region...

. Stevens built his estate at Castle Point, on land that would later become the site of Stevens Institute of Technology
Stevens Institute of Technology
Stevens Institute of Technology is a technological university located on a campus in Hoboken, New Jersey, USA – founded in 1870 with an 1868 bequest from Edwin A. Stevens. It is known for its engineering, science, and technological management curricula.The institute has produced leading...

 (bequeathed by his son Edwin Augustus Stevens).

In 1802 he built a screw-driven steamboat, and in 1806 he built the Phoenix
Phoenix (boat)
The Phoenix was a steamboat that was built in 1807 by John Stevens and his son, Robert L. Stevens, at Hoboken, New Jersey.Phoenix was long, wide and deep...

, a steamboat that ultimately sailed from Hoboken to Philadelphia in 1809, thereby becoming the first steamship to successfully navigate the open ocean.

In October 1811, Stevens' ship the Juliana, began operation as the first steam
Steam
Steam is the technical term for water vapor, the gaseous phase of water, which is formed when water boils. In common language it is often used to refer to the visible mist of water droplets formed as this water vapor condenses in the presence of cooler air...

-powered ferry
Ferry
A ferry is a form of transportation, usually a boat, but sometimes a ship, used to carry primarily passengers, and sometimes vehicles and cargo as well, across a body of water. Most ferries operate on regular, frequent, return services...

 (service was between New York, New York, and Hoboken, New Jersey
Hoboken, New Jersey
Hoboken is a city in Hudson County, New Jersey, United States. As of the 2010 United States Census, the city's population was 50,005. The city is part of the New York metropolitan area and contains Hoboken Terminal, a major transportation hub for the region...

). The first railroad charter in the U.S. was given to Stevens and others in 1815 for the New Jersey Railroad. He designed and built a steam locomotive
Steam locomotive
A steam locomotive is a railway locomotive that produces its power through a steam engine. These locomotives are fueled by burning some combustible material, usually coal, wood or oil, to produce steam in a boiler, which drives the steam engine...

 capable of hauling several passenger cars at his estate in Hoboken, New Jersey
Hoboken, New Jersey
Hoboken is a city in Hudson County, New Jersey, United States. As of the 2010 United States Census, the city's population was 50,005. The city is part of the New York metropolitan area and contains Hoboken Terminal, a major transportation hub for the region...

 in 1825.The invention of the steam engine helped begin the modern railroads and trains. He also helped develop United States patent law.

Family


On October 17, 1782, he married Rachel Cox, a descendant of the Langeveldts (Longfields) who originally settled New Brunswick, New Jersey
New Brunswick, New Jersey
New Brunswick is a city in Middlesex County, New Jersey, USA. It is the county seat and the home of Rutgers University. The city is located on the Northeast Corridor rail line, southwest of Manhattan, on the southern bank of the Raritan River. At the 2010 United States Census, the population of...

.

They had eleven children:
  • John Cox Stevens
    John Cox Stevens
    John Cox Stevens is best known for founding and serving as the first Commodore of the New York Yacht Club as well as being a member of the America syndicate which won the first America's Cup trophy in 1851....

     (1785–1857), first commodore of the New York Yacht Club
    New York Yacht Club
    The New York Yacht Club is a private social club and yacht club based in New York City and Newport, Rhode Island. It was founded in 1844 by nine prominent sportsmen. The members have contributed to the sport of yachting and yacht design. The organization has over 3,000 members as of 2011. ...

    .
  • Robert Livingston Stevens
    Robert Livingston Stevens
    Colonel Robert Livingston Stevens was the son of Colonel John Stevens. In 1807, the father and son built the Phœnix, a steamship which became the first steamship to navigate the ocean successfully when she traveled from New York City to the Delaware River in 1809...

     (1787–1856), applied the wave line to shipbuilding, and president of Camden and Amboy Railroad, the first railroad
    Rail transport
    Rail transport is a means of conveyance of passengers and goods by way of wheeled vehicles running on rail tracks. In contrast to road transport, where vehicles merely run on a prepared surface, rail vehicles are also directionally guided by the tracks they run on...

     built in New Jersey
    New Jersey
    New Jersey is a state in the Northeastern and Middle Atlantic regions of the United States. , its population was 8,791,894. It is bordered on the north and east by the state of New York, on the southeast and south by the Atlantic Ocean, on the west by Pennsylvania and on the southwest by Delaware...

    .
  • James Alexander Stevens (1790–1873)
  • Richard Stevens (1792–1835)
  • Francis Bowes Stevens (1793–1812)
  • Edwin Augustus Stevens (1795–1868), founder of Stevens Institute of Technology
    Stevens Institute of Technology
    Stevens Institute of Technology is a technological university located on a campus in Hoboken, New Jersey, USA – founded in 1870 with an 1868 bequest from Edwin A. Stevens. It is known for its engineering, science, and technological management curricula.The institute has produced leading...

    .
  • Elizabeth Juliana Stevens (1797–1821)
  • Mary Stevens (1799–1825), first wife of Rear Admiral Joshua R. Sands
    Joshua R. Sands
    Joshua Ratoon Sands was an officer in the United States Navy who rose to the rank of Rear Admiral. He served in the War of 1812, the Mexican–American War, and the Civil War.-Biography:...

  • Harriet Stevens (1801–1844), second wife of Joshua R. Sands
  • Esther Bowes Stevens (1804-?)
  • Catherine Sophia Van Cortlandt Stevens (1806-?)

External links