In John Lloyd Stephens early life, not much pointed to the role he would later play in regards to inernational travel exploration. Stephens was the son of a wealthy New York City merchant. In 1822 he graduated from Columbia College receiving a degree in law. After becoming a lawyer, he became an active member in the Manhattan�s Tammancy Hall Democratic organization.
Because of health reasons, in 1834 he left New York to take a long European trip. Just one year later, that trip took him to the Middle East. He traveled to Egypt, up the Nile, and through the Sinai desert. He also explored most of the areas in Palestine, and he went to a diverse number of isolated locations. To site an instace, he explored Petra, the rock-covered city that had never been seen before by an American.