Colonel John Stevens, of Hoboken, as he is generally called, was born in the city of New York, in 1749, but, throughout his business life, he was a resident of New Jersey.
He was undoubtedly the greatest engineer and naval architect living at the beginning of the present century.
Without having made any one superlatively great improvement in the mechanism of the steam-engine, like that which gave Watt his fame; without having the honor of being the first to propose navigation by steam, or steam transportation on land, he exhibited a far better knowledge of the science and of the art of engineering than any man of his time, and he entertained and urged more advanced opinions and more statesmanlike views, in relation to the economical importance of tire improvement of the steam-engine, both on land and water, than seem to have been attributable to any other leading engineer of that time.
His attention is said to have been first called to the application of steam-power by seeing the experiments of John Fitch with his steamer. He entered upon the work of the introduction of steam in navigation with characteristic energy, and with a success that will be indicated when we come to the consideration of that branch of the subject.
But this far-sighted engineer and statesman saw plainly the importance of applying the steam-engine to land transportation as well as navigation; and not only that, but he saw with equal distinctness