the importance of a well-devised and carefully-prosecuted scheme of internal communication by a complete system of railroads.
56. In 1812 he published a pamphlet embodying "Documents tending to prove the Superior Advantages of Railways and Steam Carriages over Canal Navigation."
At this time, the only working locomotive in the world was that of Trevithick and Vivian, at Merthyr-Tydvil, and the railroad itself had not grown beyond the old wooden tram-roads of the collieries.
Yet, Colonel Stevens says in this paper, "I can see nothing to hinder a steam-carriage moving on its ways with a velocity of one hundred miles an hour," adding in a foot-note: "This astonishing velocity is considered here merely possible. It is probable that it may not, in practice, be convenient to exceed twenty or thirty miles per hour. Actual experiments can only determine this matter, and I should not be surprised at seeing steam-carriages propelled at the rate of forty or fifty miles an hour."
At a yet earlier date he had addressed a memoir to the proper authorities, urging his plans for railroads.
He proposed rails of timber, protected when necessary by iron plates, or to be made wholly of iron. The car-wheels were to be of cast-iron, with inside flanges to keep them on the track. The steam engine was to be driven by steam of fifty pounds pressure, and to be non-condensing.
Answering the objections of Robert R. Livingston and of the commissioners of New York, he goes further into details.
57. He gives 500 to 1,000 pounds as the maximum weight to be placed on each wheel, shows that the trains or "suites of carriages," as he calls them, will make their journeys "with as much certainty and celerity in the darkest night as in the light of day," shows that the grades of proposed roads would offer but little resistance, and places the whole subject before the public with such accuracy of statement, and such evident appreciation of its true value, that every one who reads this remarkable document will agree fully with the late President Charles King, of Columbia College, who said that "whosoever shall attentively read this pamphlet will perceive that the political, financial, commercial, and military aspects of this great question were all present to Colonel Stevens's mind, and that he felt that he was fulfilling a patriotic duty when he placed at the disposal of his native country these fruits of his genius.
"The offer was not then accepted. The Thinker was ahead of his age, but it is grateful to know that he lived to see his projects carried out—though not by the Government—and that before he finally, in 1838, closed his eyes in death, at the great age of eighty-nine, he could justly feel assured that the name of Stevens, in his own person
- Printed by T. & J. Swords, 1160 Pearl Street, New York, 1812.