Line engraving of Edwin A.
Edwin Augustus Stevens
(July 28, 1795 –
August 8, 1868) was an
inventor, and entrepreneur who left a bequest that was used to
establish the Stevens Institute of Technology.
Stevens published in The Stevens Ironclad
Early life and family
was born at Castle Point, Hoboken, New Jersey, the son of Colonel John Stevens III (1749-1838)
and his wife Rachel Cox (1761-1839).
He was the sixth of
eleven children, and among his older brothers were John Cox Stevens
and Robert Livingston Stevens
. In 1836 he
married Mary Barton Picton, daughter of Rev. Thomas Picton of
They had a daughter, Mary Picton Stevens
–September 21, 1903), who
went on to marry Virginia politician
Muscoe Russell Hunter
Garnett and later Edward
Parke Custis Lewis, U.S. minister to Portugal.
In 1854, after his first wife's death, Stevens married Martha
Bayard Dod (May 15
– April 1
the daughter of Albert Baldwin
Dod (1805-1845), professor of mathematics at Princeton
University, and Caroline Smith Bayard, who was the daughter of
Samuel Bayard (1766-1840) and granddaughter of Continental Congressman John Bubenheim Bayard (1738-1808).
Martha he had six children: John Stevens (b. July 1856),
grandfather of Millicent Fenwick
Edwin Augustus Stevens
(b. March 14
); Caroline Bayard Stevens (b. November 21
married Archibald Alexander and then H. Otto
; Robert Livingston Stevens (b. August 26
Albert Stevens (b. December 14
); and Richard Stevens (b. May 1868).
At an early age Stevens was entrusted by his father with the family
business affairs, and in 1821 at the age of 26 he assumed full
responsibility for the Stevens estate in Hoboken and other
properties. Also in 1821, he developed the "Stevens plow," a
cast-iron plow with a curved moldboard and replaceable heel piece.
The plow was popular among New Jersey farmers. He went on to design
many other technological innovations, such as the “twohorse dump
wagon” for New York City; the "closed fireroom” system of forced
draft for his family's steamboat fleet; and the "vestibule car" for
the Camden and Amboy
Following the death of Colonel Stevens in 1838, Edwin and his
brother Robert worked on a commission from the United States
government to construct the nation's first ironclad naval vessel.
After conducting tests to determine the amount of armor a vessel
needed to defend itself against naval guns, the two brothers
constructed a huge vessel known as the Stevens Battery
. Though the craft was never
fully completed, it nevertheless laid the groundwork for the modern
armored warship. A scaled-down version, the USS Naugatuck
, saw limited
action in the Civil War
the war, the Naugatuck and the Battery were sold for scrap.
was part of the syndicate from the New York Yacht Club that built and raced the schooner-yacht
brother, John Cox Stevens
, was the
head of the syndicate and the NYYC's first Commodore
. Edwin Augustus also served
as Commodore of the NYYC, resigning in 1866.
He died in
His will left land adjoining his family
estate, $150,000 for the erection of a building and $500,000 as an
endowment for the establishment of an "institution of
Because of the Stevens family's close ties with engineering, the
executors decided this would be an institution devoted to the
A building on the Stevens campus now stands as "The Edwin A.
Stevens Hall", which houses the school of engineering for the
Institute. Also in this building is the renowned "DeBaun
Auditorium", which is over 100 years old, and has been refurbished
to what it would have looked like when first constructed.