From John Stevens
Hoboken, near New York, Novr. 7th. 1818.
The vast importance, in my humble opinion, of the subject matter of the communications herewith enclosed1 must be my apology for the liberty I now take in requesting your perusal of them.
Should the object proposed to the consideration of the general government meet your approbation, or be considered by you of sufficient moment to induce you to favour me with an expression of your sentiments respecting it, impressed, as I should be, with a due sense of the honour, permit me also to say, that it would afford to me the highest gratification. With Sentiments of great Respect & Consideration, I have the Honour to be, Sir, Your Obedt. Servt.
1. The enclosures have not been identified, but one was probably a copy of Stevens’s Documents Tending to Prove the Superior Advantages of Rail-Ways and Steam-Carriages over Canal Navigation (New York, 1812; Shaw and Shoemaker description begins R. R. Shaw and R. H. Shoemaker, comps., American Bibliography: A Preliminary Checklist for 1801–1819 (22 vols.; New York, 1958–66). description ends 26804). Stevens had sent a copy of this pamphlet to JM in 1812 (Stevens to JM, ca. 4 June 1812, PJM-PS description begins Robert A. Rutland et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison: Presidential Series (6 vols. to date; Charlottesville, Va., 1984—). description ends , 4:452 and n.).
2. John Stevens (1749–1838), a graduate of King’s College and a Revolutionary War veteran, was an inventor who held a number of patents for steam engine design. He devoted his life to the development of steam transportation. By 1811 he had two steamboats of his own design providing ferry service on the Delaware River and Long Island Sound. About this time Stevens turned to promoting the building of railroads, which culminated in 1834 with the opening of the Philadelphia and Columbia Railroad.