The New International Encyclopædia/Eads, James Buchanan

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EADS, ēdz, James Buchanan (1820-87). An eminent American engineer and inventor. He was born in Lawrenceburgh, Ind., but removed to Saint Louis in 1833; became a clerk on a Mississippi steamboat in 1839; and, having studied engineering by himself, set out to solve some of the problems of navigation on that river. By the outbreak of the Civil War he had achieved fame and a fortune, and was accounted such an authority on everything pertaining to the Mississippi and its navigation that, soon after the fall of Fort Sumter, he was called to Washington to consult with President Lincoln and his Cabinet as to the practicability of maintaining a fleet of light ironclads on the Western rivers. Later in the year 1861 he obtained the Government contract for the construction of such a fleet, and achieved the remarkable feat of placing in the water, fully equipped, seven ironclad river gunboats, largely of his own designing, in the short space of one hundred days. It was with these gunboats, a month before the struggle between the Merrimac and the Monitor, that the capture of Fort Henry was effected. From 1867 until 1874 Eads was engaged in the construction of the steel arch bridge across the Mississippi at Saint Louis, which ranks as one of the finest bridges in the world. After the completion of this work he began studying the problem of deepening the channel at the mouth of the Mississippi, and finally persuaded the Government to allow him to undertake the enterprise at his own risk. His plan, which provided for the construction of jetties, was carried out successfully, and was the crowning achievement of his career. The latter years of his life were spent in extensive engineering operations both in America and Europe, and the planning of a ship-railway across the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. In 1884 he received the award of the Albert medal conferred by the British Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures, and Commerce, he being the first American to receive the award. Consult How, James B. Eads (Boston, 1900), one of the “Riverside Biographies.”