John Ericsson Memorial

John Ericsson Memorial Statue

During his lifetime, John Ericsson revolutionized several facets of technology. The Swedish-born engineer-inventor is best known for his work during the Civil War when he transformed naval warfare through his design of the iron-plated USS Monitor. The movements of Ericsson’s pencil across his drafting board were as crucial to victory as the movements of Lincoln’s armies across battlefields.

The Memorial

Noted American sculptor James Earle Fraser’s design includes an allegorical statue grouping elevated on a pedestal, gathered behind the seated figure of Captain Ericsson. The statues and pedestal rest upon a granite base in the form of a compass, a fitting honor for an individual so important in the field of marine propulsion and naval warfare. The allegorical grouping represents key facets of Ericsson’s heritage and achievements.

Stone and Mortar

  • Authorized by the U. S. Congress on August 31, 1916.
  • Sculptor: James Earle Fraser.
  • Dedicated on May 29, 1926.
  • Unveiling of the completed memorial in the spring of 1927.
  • The granite base has a diameter of 150 feet.
  • The granite pedestal: 15 feet 5 inches square and 3 feet 3 inches high.
  • The seated figure of Ericsson is 6 feet 5 inches high.
  • The completed memorial of pink Milford granite from Massachusetts is 20 feet high.
  • Dates of the construction began in September of 1926 and ended in April of 1927.

The Man

When one mentions the name John Ericsson, the general reaction of the listener is a blank stare. This circumstance is unfortunate, for Captain John Ericsson possessed one of the greater engineering minds that ever existed. His inventions still affect us to this day. His creations reinforce the notion that anyone can come to this great nation and bring to fruition their dreams, large or small. His story testifies to the opportunity afforded by a free society, and the personal drive to succeed, which if acted upon, can produce great things. Ericsson, an immigrant from Sweden, revolutionized the very concept of naval propulsion, with his development of the screw propeller. His love for the republican values of the United States manifested itself throughout the American Civil War. Ericsson's ship, the USS Monitor, helped to preserve the blockade effort of the United States Navy and ensured Yankee naval supremacy. Despite his revolutionary accomplishments, the memory of John Ericsson is obscure in comparison with other giants from the period.

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Getting There

The John Ericsson Memorial is located at the intersection of 23rd St. SW, Ohio Drive SW, and Independence Ave. SW in Washington, D.C. Nearby landmarks include the Lincoln Memorial and the Arlington Memorial Bridge to the north.

GPS coordinates: 38.886669, -77.050186.

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