Somebody made a video about it. The U.S. has a long history of screwing over inventors, but this is a particularly early example which had long lasting, unintended political consequences. John Ericsson was sort of the Tesla of his time, and a very interesting and talented engineer, but one whose work is mostly forgotten now. He built a number of steam locomotives, fire engines, and ships, and made several “hot air” types of engines, as well as pursued solar power solutions.

He is best remembered today for Designing the Monitor warship and the Novelty steam locomotive.


One of his most ambitious projects was also his only major failure - a ship called the Caloric Ship Ericsson which used MASSIVE sterling engines, which were at the time the largest reciprocating engines ever built. Unfortunately it was still underpowered, and later converted to an ordinary steam ship. No other “caloric” ships were built.


He spent a lot of time in his later career developing the sterling engine - hot air engines having been a life long obsession of his, and believed that some day solar heated engines would be the future.

Unfortunately he had little financial success in this pursuit. But he did end up making some money off of the Rider-Ericsson water pump, sold in areas where regular windmill pumps were unsuitable.