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John Stevens

Unidentified Artist
John Stevens, 1749 - 6 Mar 1838
c. 1830
Oil on canvas
Stretcher: 92.1 x 74.3 x 2.5cm (36 1/4 x 29 1/4 x 1")
Frame: 118.7 x 100.3 x 12.1cm (46 3/4 x 39 1/2 x 4 3/4")
Credit Line
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of H.H. Walker Lewis in memory of his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Edwin A.S. Lewis
Object number
Exhibition Label
Revolutionary War colonel John Stevens, trained in the law and self-educated as an engineer, was a pioneer in steam-engine experimentation. In 1804 his small steamboat, Little Juliana, operated by twin-screw propellers, made a successful trip across the Hudson and back to the New Jersey shore. Barred by the monopoly held by Robert Fulton from operating on the Hudson River, Stevens in 1808 sent his paddle steamer Phoenix-the first completely American-built steam engine-to Philadelphia by sea and opened a steamship line between that city and Trenton. In 1825 Stevens designed the first American-built steam locomotive, operating it, at the rate of over twelve miles per hour, on a circular track on his estate in Hoboken to demonstrate the feasibility of steam (as a replacement for horses) to power railroad transportation.
H. H. Walker Lewis, Baltimore [1904-1999, descendant]; gift 1975 NPG
Data Source
National Portrait Gallery
See more items in
National Portrait Gallery Collection
American Origins
On View
NPG, East Gallery 136