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Stevens, Edwin A.

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Edwin A. Stevens, (1795-1868)

Edwin Augustus Stevens was born in Hoboken, New Jersey, on 29 July 1795. He began a very successful business career at an early age, working in his family's Delaware River ferryboat firm. During the 1820s, this maritime undertaking was expanded into the New York City area and also moved ashore with the acquisition of a stagecoach company. Early in the next decade, Stevens and his brother Robert entered the new field of railroading, establishing the Camden and Amboy Railroad Corporation. They soon combined with the Delaware and Raritan Canal Company to receive a State-sanctioned monopoly for rail and canal operations between New York and Philadelphia. Additional acquisitions and careful cultivation of political influence ensured the financial productivity of the Stevens' transportation enterprises.

The Stevens brothers also became involved in Naval weapons and ship technology and, in 1842, received a U.S. Government contract to produce an innovative steam warship for the defense of New York Harbor. The resulting "Stevens Battery" was never completed, though it absorbed a great deal of Government and private money. A much smaller version, produced early in the Civil War to demonstrate the viability of some elements of the Stevens Battery's design, served briefly in 1862 as USS Naugatuck.

Edwin A. Stevens retired from his railroad position in 1867 and died in Paris, France, on 8 August 1868. He left what was in his day a great fortune, some of which was used to establish the Stevens Institute of Technology at Hoboken, New Jersey.