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John Ericsson
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    (July 31, 1803-March 8, 1889)
    Born in Langbanshyttan, Sweden
    Mechanical engineer and inventor
    Designed steam engines, screw propellers and torpedo boats
    Best known for designing the ironclad USS Monitor for the Union during the US Civil War
    While serving in the Swedish army, he fathered a child out of wedlock (1824).
    His commercial failure in marketing his early inventions resulted in two stints in debtors prison, followed by a declaration of bankruptcy (1835).
    His design for the Monitor was initially rejected by the Navy as too radical.
    At fourteen, he was appointed as a surveyor for the Gotha Ship Canal, where he oversaw work by 600 Swedish soldiers.
    When he designed the USS Princeton, perhaps the most advanced warship of its day, Captain Robert Stockton attempted to steal credit for it -- until one of the ship's guns exploded, at which point Stockton shifted responsibility back to Ericsson.
    The gun that exploded actually had been designed by Stockton (based on an imperfect copy of a different gun designed by Ericsson).
    Ironclads based on the Monitor's design played a key role in maintaining the Union's blockade of Confederate ports during the Civil War.

Credit: C. Fishel

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