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Statue / monument of John Ericsson in Washington DC by Sculptor James Earle Fraser  Subject: John Ericsson
 Year: 1926
 Sculptor: James Earle Fraser
 Location: West Potomac Park
( Independence Avenue & Ohio Drive )

Born in Sweden, Ericsson (1803-1889) came to the United States in 1839 as a naval engineer with a commission to build a ship for the U.S. Navy. Although he did not invent it, he perfected the screw propeller, a revolutionary means of moving heavy ships through water. Legend has it that Ericsson was a bit of a crank and that many Naval personnel disliked working with him.

Nonetheless, when the Civil War began and the Union forces required improved marine transportation, Ericsson designed and built the iron-clad ship, the Monitor which defeated the Confederate ship the Merrimac in 1862. Ericsson went on to develop a system of launching underwater torpedoes and experimented with solar energy.

Although he became a U.S. citizen in 1848, his remains were returned to Sweden in 1890 at the request of the Swedish government.

Funds for the memorial were raised by Americans of Swedish descent. A larger-than-life-size figure of Ericsson is seated on the west side of the memorial. Behind him are three scantily-clad figures representing Vision, Adventure, and Labor. The figures surround a Norse Tree of Life.

Photos and text copyright © 2001 Jean K. Rosales and Michael R. Jobe, All Rights Reserved

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