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Men, Machines, and Modern Times$
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Elting E. Morison

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780262529310

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262529310.001.0001

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Men and Machinery

Men and Machinery

(p.131) 6 Men and Machinery
Men, Machines, and Modern Times

Elting E. Morison

The MIT Press

This chapter tells the strange story of what happened in the U.S. Navy when a new steamship, the Wampanoag, was put into service in the 1860s. It first describes the physical characteristics of the U.S.S. Wampanoag before sharing some biographical remarks about the man who conceived of, designed, and built her: Benjamin Franklin Isherwood. It considers the case of Isherwood to illustrate the circumstances that produce what may be called intellectual or professional heroism. It also examines the naval officers' criticism of the steam engine and suggests that if you have a clear enough scheme of things, a firm enough regulatory system, a culture, you can exert a restraining influence, modify the design of the machinery to keep it doing useful work within the cultural and human boundaries.

Keywords:   steamship, U.S. Navy, U.S.S. Wampanoag, Benjamin Franklin Isherwood, professional heroism, naval officers, steam engine, culture, machinery

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