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John Lloyd Stephens

John Lloyd Stephens (1805 - 1852) was a United States explorer, writer, diplomat. Stephens was a pivotal figure in the rediscovery of Maya civilization and in the planning of the Panama railroad[?].

Stephens was born in Shrewsbury, New Jersey November 28, 1805. He studied at Columbia University and got a law degree. In 1834 he traveled to the near east, where he decided to write a book describing his travels.

Stephens wrote several popular books about his travels and explorations:

In 1839, President Martin Van Buren commissioned Stephens as Special Ambassador to Central America. While there, the government of the United States of Central America fell apart in civil war. "Incidents of Travel in Central America..." accounts gives a vivid description of some of those events which Stephens witnessed, and of even greater importance provided descriptions of several ancient Maya sites, along with illustrations by Stephen's traveling companion, architect and draftsman Frederick Catherwood[?]. These were greatly superior in both amount and accuracy of depection to the small amount of information on ancient Mesoamerica previously published. Stephens continued his investigations of Maya ruins with a return trip to Yucatan which produced a further book.

In 1850 he traveled to Panama to work on the project to construct a trans-isthmus railroad. Stephens died in Panama as a result of malaria on October 13, 1852.

Stephens is the subject of a biography "Maya Explorer" by Victor Wolfgang Von Hagan, first published in 1947.

References

  1. http://www.trainweb.org/panama/stephens
  2. http://www.trainweb.org/panama/stephens2



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