John Lloyd Stephens Creates the Maya
Epilogue. The Footsteps Form a Circle
Epilogue The Footsteps Form a Circle It seems altogether appropriate to let Eugene Exman in The Brothers Harper bring closure to Stephens’ adventures. “Stephens had died in New York in 1852, passing into a coma on the very day that a ship bearing his name was launched—the flagship of the Panama Mail Steamship Company. Although the newspapers published lav- ish obituaries, he was not long remembered. He was buried in New York’s Marble Cemetery in the wrong tomb and in an unmarked grave” (360).1 In the 9 years between the publication of Incidents of Travel in Yucatan and his death in 1852, Stephens rediscovered his interest in politics and speculative capitalism. In 1846 he was elected to the New York Constitutional Convention for both the Whig and Democratic Parties. In June 1847 he sailed as vice-president of the Ocean Steam Navigating Company from New York to Bremerhaven, the voyage affording him the opportunity to meet with the author, explorer, and authority on Mexico, Baron Alexander von Humboldt.2 Stephens’ company demonstrated that an American firm could in fact compete with England in the steamship trade in the Atlantic. Following the discovery of gold in California in 1848, Stephens partnered with William H. Aspinwall and Henry Chauncey to create the Panama Railroad Company in 1849 with the express purpose of creating a trans-isthmus passage for American miners and their cargo. Their Memorial to Congress is inspirational and visionary: Lenz_Epi.indd 147 07/06/13 2:41 PM 148 | RUINS, REVOLUTION, AND MANIFEST...
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