Bond of Union: Building the Erie Canal and the American Empire [NOOK Book]

Overview

In this elegantly written and far-reaching narrative, acclaimed author Gerard Koeppel tells the astonishing story of the creation of the Erie Canal and the memorable characters who turned a visionary plan into a successful venture. Koeppel’s long years of research fill the pages with new findings about the construction of the canal and its enormous impact, providing a unique perspective on America’s self perception as an empire destined to expand to the Pacific.
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Bond of Union: Building the Erie Canal and the American Empire

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Overview

In this elegantly written and far-reaching narrative, acclaimed author Gerard Koeppel tells the astonishing story of the creation of the Erie Canal and the memorable characters who turned a visionary plan into a successful venture. Koeppel’s long years of research fill the pages with new findings about the construction of the canal and its enormous impact, providing a unique perspective on America’s self perception as an empire destined to expand to the Pacific.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal

Koeppel (Water for Gotham) cites two main reasons for writing another book on the Erie Canal: to disabuse readers of false notions that have gained acceptance through repetition and to highlight previously underplayed personalities. He underlines the significance of Jesse Hawley, whose newspaper essays under the pseudonym "Hercules" conceived of and promoted the canal, and Andrew Bartow, the overlooked developer of hydraulic cement, which can harden properly under water. We learn that canal surveyor Joseph Elliott standardized the foot as a national measurement, that a faction sought an Ontario Canal rather than one leading to Lake Erie, and that Buffalo's selection as the western terminus helped revive that city after its destruction during the War of 1812. Koeppel highlights the role of the canal engineers and notes the high death toll among the workers and surveyors, and he reminds readers of the canal's importance in transporting people as well as goods. This lucid and colorfully written narrative is recommended for libraries that do not already have Peter L. Bernstein's Wedding of the Waters: The Erie Canal and the Making of a Great Nation or that want to expand their holdings in 19th-century technological and New York State history.
—Frederick J. Augustyn Jr.

Kirkus Reviews
A comprehensive history of the building of the Erie Canal. Author of Water for Gotham: A History (2000) and a contributor to Water-Works: The Architecture and Engineering of the New York City Water Supply (2006), former CBS News editor Koeppel continues to explore the subject of the Big Apple's crucial connections to its waterways. The commitment to extensive research he brought to previous works is evident here as he ably tells the story of the many strong-willed visionaries who helped bring the Erie Canal into being. Chief among them was frontier merchant Jesse Hawley, who in 1807 wrote a series of essays from debtor's prison expounding on his dream of an overland waterway. Possessing little education and no engineering background, Hawley studied books and maps to craft a plan for a canal to connect Lake Erie with the Hudson River. His essays caught the attention of many prominent New Yorkers, including surveyor and city planner Joseph Ellicott, influential businessman Elkanah Watson and Gov. De Witt Clinton, who began to argue forcefully, in the face of widespread skepticism, for the building of the canal. Koeppel details the political twists and turns that surrounded the conceptualizing, funding, engineering and building of the Erie Canal. Finally completed in 1825, it was the first major link between the seaboard states and the landlocked interior. It proved an unmitigated boon for merchants, and the author convincingly argues that the canal hastened the birth of America as a continental nation. At times, the level of detail can be daunting-the author spends several pages expounding on a controversy about a patent for waterproof cement, for example-but there is little doubt Koeppel'shistory is the most complete and well-researched to date. Authoritative and important. Agent: Russell Galen/Scovil Ghosh Galen Literary Agency
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780786745449
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press
  • Publication date: 3/10/2009
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 480
  • Sales rank: 845,409
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

Gerard Koeppel is a writer, journalist, historian, and former editor for CBS News. He is the author of the highly acclaimed Water for Gotham and lives in Manhattan.
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Table of Contents

1 An American Ambition 1

2 The Wilderness Years 13

3 "The Effusions of a Maniac" 39

4 Apollo Rising 65

5 Erie Rise and Fall 77

6 The Cause Uncrowned 111

7 "The Most Gigantic Undertaking" 153

8 Laying the Groundwork 193

9 Securing the Middle 223

10 Eastward Ho! 269

11 How the West Was Won 317

12 Ten Days That Shook New York 365

13 "The Shadowy Remembrance" 387

Notes 399

Bibliography 429

Acknowledgments 441

Index 443

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 4, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Bond of Union is a tale of empire building. The book exposes all manner of dirty ditch digging entailed in the creation of The Erie Canal and the exertions, physical and political, required to bring such an enterprise to reality.

    Mr Koeppel has chosen a topic dear to my heart. He tells a story of how a great public works project manages to get from a concept inside someone's head into reality. Sure someone has to present the original idea, in this case, the building of a waterway from the Hudson River to the Great Lakes. But this is a project beyond any one person's ability to create. Try to dig a ditch 350 miles through untamed wilderness. It's obvious that you'll need help. More men with shovels, more wagons, more blasting powder, in short, more money to pay for it all.

    How do you convince private investors or the politicians to write the check or pass a bond act? Who can you get as your champion? Why will they sign on? Who will oppose you and what are their motivations? Even if they don't fully oppose you, they might still want to change your original routes to serve their own agenda. How will you respond? Indeed will you, the original conceiver, still be involved?

    Like the stories behind the building of the Statue of Liberty, The St. Louis Arch, The Brooklyn Bridge, The Eiffel Tower, or Colossus of Rhodes, the HOW it achieved reality can be every bit as exciting as the fact of its existence.

    Mr Koeppel tells the story of the Erie Canal, with a style that manages to keep your interest through too many characters, too many years, and too many obstacles. He skips none of the details, yet the confusion is contained within the context of digging the world's largest engineering project to that time. He weaves the importance of the result throughout to keep an even keel as he pulls us from one stopping point in his tale to another.

    My predisposition for his choice of subjects gave him a head start toward making me appreciate his effort in writing this book. He always looks back and never fell behind. I applaud this book.

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