John Ericsson 1803-1889
Born Vermland, Sweden

Before he came to the United States in 1839, the Swedish-born engineer and inventor John Ericsson revolutionized navigation with his development of the screw propeller. He achieved fame during the Civil War when he designed the ironclad warship Monitor, the federal response to the threat of the Confederate ironclad Virginia (the refitted USS Merrimack).
Ericsson, posing with a model of his "tin can on a raft," always worked alone and had previously perfected engines for many purposes, including fire engines and a steam locomotive. He later developed the forerunner of the modern naval destroyer.


  • Title: John Ericsson
  • Creator: Arvid Frederick Nyholm
  • Date Created: 1912
  • Type: Oil on canvas
  • Rights: National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; transfer from the Smithsonian American Art Museum; gift of the Swedish American Republican League of Illinois to the Smithsonian Institution, 1912
  • External Link: https://npg.si.edu/object/npg_NPG.66.54
  • Classification: Painting

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