— National Mall & Memorial Parks, Washington, D.C. —
"I love this country. I love its people and its laws, and I would give my life for it just as soon as not."
Swedish-born John Ericsson revolutionized maritime navigation through the first practical use of a stern-mounted propeller. Ironically, he remains better known for an invention to sink ships not propel them.
During the early stages of the Civil War, concern over the Confederate iron-clad vessel Virginia gripped American seaports. Wooden-hulled ships remained no match for those sheathed in armor.
On March 9, 1862, the USS Monitor
-an ironclad of Ericsson's design-fought the Virginia to a draw at Hampton Roads near Norfolk, Virginia. Its success initiated construction of more Ericsson-designed ironclads President Abraham Lincoln's increasingly formidable arsenal.
Following the war, Ericsson continued his ground-breaking work in the fields of naval engineering and solar power development. His successful provided a shining example of immigrants who journeyed to American shores in search of a better way of life.
Lobbied by the American Scandinavian Alliance, Congress authorized the John Ericsson Memorial in 1916. Architect Albert Randolph Ross and sculptor James Earle Fraser were tapped to be its creative forces. The memorial was dedicated on May 29, 1926, before a crowd of 5,000, which included President Calvin Coolidge and Swedish Crown Prince Gustav Adolf. Frasier's sculpture embodies Ericsson seated in deep thought, shadowed by the female figure of Vision, an American ironworker as Labor, and a Viking warrior as Adventure. At their back stands the tree of life from Norse mythology. All are symbols of Ericsson's genius, heritage, and adopted homeland. The pink Milford, Massachusetts used here is also used in the Lincoln Memorial. In fitting tribute, these two guardians of the Union - Lincoln and Ericsson - together maintain silent watch along the Potomac River.