In this book he gives directions how to propel boats by means of his engine against the current of the Mississippi. Prior to this publication he associated himself with some citizens of Kentucky - one of whom was the grandfather of the present Gen. Chauncey McKeever, United States Army - the purpose being to build a steamboat to run on the Mississippi. The boat was actually built in Kentucky and floated to New Orleans. The engine was actually built in Philadelphia by Mr. Evans and sent to New Orleans, but before the engine arrived out the boat was destroyed by fire or hurricane. The engine was then put to sawing timber, and it operated so successfully that Mr. Stackhouse, the engineer who went out with it, reported on his return from the South that for the 13 months prior to his leaving the engine had been constantly at work, not having lost a single day!
The reader can thus see the high stage of efficiency which Oliver Evans had imparted to his engine full 80 years ago. On this point Dr. Ernst Alban, the German writer on the steam engine, when speaking of the high pressure steam engine, writes: "Indeed, to such perfection did he [Evans] bring it, that Trevithick and Vivian, who came after him, followed but clumsily in his wake, and do not deserve the title of either inventors or improvers of the high pressure engine, which the English are so anxious to award to them.... When it is considered under what unfavorable circumstances Oliver Evans worked, his merit must be much enhanced; and all attempts made to lessen his fame only show that he is neither understood nor equaled by his detractors."
The writer has already shown that there are bright exceptions to this general charge brought by Dr. Alban against British writers, but the overwhelming mass of them have acted more like envious children than like men when speaking of the authorship of the double acting high pressure steam engine, the locomotive, and the steam railway system. Speaking of this class of British writers, Prof. Renwick, when alluding to their treatment of Oliver Evans, writes: "Conflicting national pride comes in aid of individual jealousy, and the writers of one nation often claim for their own vain and inefficient projectors the honors due to the successful enterprise of a foreigner." Many of these writers totally ignore the very existence of Oliver Evans, and all of them attribute to Trevithick and Vivian the authorship of the high pressure steam engine and the locomotive. Yet, when doing so, all of them substantially acknowledge the American origin of both inventions, because it is morally certain that Trevithick and Vivian got possession of the plans and specifications of his engine. Oliver Evans sent them to England in 1794-5 by Mr. Joseph Stacy Sampson, of Boston, with the hope that some British engineer would approve and conjointly with him take out patents for the inventions.
Mr. Sampson died in England, but not until after he had extensively exhibited Mr. Evans' plans, apparently, however, without success. After Mr. Sampson's death Trevithick and Vivian took out a patent for a high pressure steam engine. This could happen and yet the invention be original with them.
But they introduced into Cornwall a form of boiler hitherto unknown in Great Britain, namely, the cylindrical flue boiler, which Oliver Evans had invented and used in America years before the names of Trevithick and Vivian were associated with the steam engine. Hence, they were charged over fifty years ago with having stolen the invention of Mr. Evans, and the charge has never been refuted. Hence when British writers ignore the just claims of Oliver Evans and assert for Trevithick and Vivian the authorship of the high pressure steam engine and the locomotive, they thereby substantially acknowledge the American origin of both inventions. They are not only of American origin, but their author, although born in 1755, was nevertheless an American of the second generation, seeing that he was descended from the Rev. Dr. Evans Evans, who in the earlier days of the colony of Pennsylvania came out to take charge of the affairs of the Episcopal Church in Pennsylvania.
The writer has thus shown that with the patent granted by the State of Maryland to Oliver Evans in 1787 were associated - first, the double acting high pressure steam engine, which to-day is the standard steam engine of the world; second, the locomotive, that is in worldwide use; third, the steam railway system, which pervades the world; fourth, the high pressure steamboat, which term embraces all the great ocean steamships that are actuated by the compound steam engine, as well as all the steamships on the Mississippi and its branches.
The time and opportunity has now arrived to assert before all the world the American origin of these universally beneficent inventions. Such a demonstration should be made, if only for the instruction of the rising generation. Not a school book has fallen into the hands of the writer that correctly sets forth the origin of the subject matter of this paper. He apprehends that it is the same with the books used in colleges and universities, for otherwise how could that parody on the history of the locomotive, called "The Life of George Stephenson, Railway Engineer," by Samuel Smiles, have met such unbounded success? To the amazement of the writer, a learned professor in one of the most important institutions of learning in the country did, in a lecture, quote Smiles as authority on a point bearing on the history of the locomotive! It is true that he made amends by adding, when his lecture was published, a counter statement; but that such a man should have seriously cited such a work shows the widespread mischief done among people not versed in engineering lore by the admirably written romance of Smiles, who as Edward C. Knight, in his Mechanical Dictionary, truly declares, has "pettifogged the whole case." If, as Prof. Renwick intimates, "conflicting national pride" has led the major part of British writers to suppress the truth as to the origin of the high pressure steam engine, the locomotive, and the steam railway system, surely true national pride should induce the countrymen of Oliver Evans to assert it.
In closing this paper the writer will say, for the information of the so-called "practical" men of the country, or, in other words, those men whose judgment of an invention is mainly guided by its money value, that Poor's Manual of Railroads in the United States for 1886 puts their capital stock and their debts at over $8,162,000,000. The value of the steamships and steamboats actuated by the high pressure steam engine the writer has no means of ascertaining. Neither can he appraise the factories and other plants in the United States - to say nothing of the rest of the world - in which the high pressure steam engine forms the motive power.