tv [untitled] CSPAN June 6, 2009 10:00am-10:30am EDT
>> this is on chronic use called goodbye 20th-century, we just bought back the paper edition. >> what is it about? >> the band and the whole grunge movement. >> lisa warren is vice president of de capo press. >> up next a history of accretion of the erie canal which expedited expansion of the united states and facilitated trade with the american west, author of gerard koeppel recounts the canals development and how did establish new york city as america's economic center. this event hosted by borders bookstore in new york city is 40 minutes. >> i am going to talk about 30 minutes and maybe have time for a few minutes of q&a afterwards. it wasn't my idea to write this book editor who asked my agent if he knew someone who could write a book about the erie
canal and agent said, yes, the guy who had written a book about new york city is what our history and the editor said great and my agent called me and i said why? what is there possibly new to write about it able but long irrelevant canal? can 1 million history at vytorin and folklore? dozens of books have been written about. in recent decades hurt children and maybe that is of program anymore for the old readers. but my age of answer the question why by saying when a major publisher wants to pay you a fair amount of money for what would be your second book you to say yes. [laughter] so i did say yes after resolving this issue of a contract for a different book but i began to insert the why question myself and i found out that there were new stories to tell about erie, new ways to tell old stories
about erie, and a little bit of myth busting to be done as well. the first thing i've gone out is that the famous erie canal song, 15 miles on the erie canal, also known as cavallo bridge, everybody down, was actually never saw it at the erie canal and that is because , in fact, no erie canal the boat ran ever loved the old name sali which is the main character and a song, or at least never saying about it. in fact, 15 miles on the erie canal is a tin pan alley songs written in 1905 author of that work began on the second and marchant into the current canal for motorized barges pulled by real history and very quickly folklore. as i researched more deeply i began to find many tales about the erie canal that were just that, story is how long tradition and unknown origin
that had iran is so big, erie canal fax or to fax so i'm going to talk about some of those but i first want to set the stage by reading a couple of pages from the book's opening if i can find it and just to set the stage for the background that led to the erie canal. morning came on coolican bright, in recent frost could just began to color the chorus autumn, the blue sky and chill air mingled the past of the future experience with the expectation. on the frontier village of buffalo, there was no more expectant time than wednesday october 8th, 1985, the population of over 2500 had been swelled by dozens of this is political and merchant leaders and hundreds of settler families from the surrounding countryside, all eager to celebrate the completion of the great project that would determine their fortunes and the
fortunes of many others. gathered in lake erie port of buffalo that 20 years earlier had been a marked man when developers map the leaders of it new york they have surged past regina to become the most populous of the united states. new york's namesake city new york city had recently displaced philadelphia as the largest city and was taking control of the american in fields, a driver as an accounting houses across the atlantic the words new york were becoming equivalent to economic opportunity for laborers, speculators and pro industrialists alike. and yet until this fine morning new york was no more assured of becoming the empire state and west virginia, pennsylvania or even ohio, south carolina or to one way. nor was the nation assured of becoming the global empire it remains. nikkei-225 the u.s. were so plural and few, not a single
nation state but sought a states were a constitution limited federal government and as late as 1865 walt whitman and proclaimed with verbal plurality, the united states with a useful political stuff most needed poets, as opposed to needs poets. abraham lincoln declaring the union as getty. change the back -- at gettysburg changed the verbiage. in a sea to shining sea continental nation the paychecks are still a dream, the land was harassed and access to and control was limited. the louisiana territory had been purchased two decades earlier but remained mostly on organized. mexico's north stressed from the saban river on the gulf of mexico to the 42nd parallel on the pacific ocean encompassing all of what are now texas, new mexico, utah, nevada and california as well as parts of colorado, oklahoma, wyoming and
kansas, the pacific northwest was open country and back used the appalachian mountain range guard in the interior two what had become maine threatened to confine the great american experiment to the atlantic seaboard. the allegiance of the several new transmontane states was unproven, their sellers looked west down rolling river valleys or the mighty mississippi, not over their shoulders at the mountains that separated them from their political creators. former vice president aaron burr's enigmatic conspiracy of 1805 come 1806 to make a nation for himself and others in the region opened at the louisiana purchase had come apart at illustrate the limited control exerted by the east over the last of the national government over its unsettled territory. a continental nation was the one certain that president thomas jefferson had deemed it optional, whether we remain in one confederacy or form into
midlantic and mississippi and in paris are believe not important to the happy the part. the coming of a steamboat in 1807 gave hope for a connectedness but illustrated the lack of it, there were boats on the hudson and mississippi rivers but no to navigation between them. the war of 1812 approved over its three-year course of the u.s. remained a shaky nation, britain burned washington, president james madison escape of course, but separate from his dolly, they also burn buffalo and neighboring black rock. the pioneers of western new york pledge east in terror, there is no different in the state's western flank and effective transportation of arms and supplies. the few roads were so abominable that the federal government spend a staggering $60 million on wartime transport including a dollar a pound for cannonballs the acosta fraction of that to produce. the cost of moving all telerate to the major naval or fan on
lake erie was more than double its purchase price and transportation to washington to the lake was up to five times the production cost. the blockade of american ports forced coastal shipping on to piven of land routes and one wagoner, of course, applies loaded in massachusetts a rise in charleston, south carolina to a half months later. nothing had changed dramatically in the decade since peace was restored until the erie canal opened on may 5 holiday in 1825. so that sets the stage for what the country was light until the erie canal got built. before trains, planes and automobiles, boats and horses were the only way to travel significant distances and in the days before groce deily to transport numbers of people or things was by water. the natural water route west and the hudson was overland from albany with, bypassing the falls
and the mohawk river. and then a backbreaking labor 125 miles of the eastward flowing river and small boats, pulled over rapids, meandering shallows to the headwaters of the mohawk river. then a porridge of a mile or more depending on the season to the west were flying and aptly named wood crate filled with trees and down a series of floods and drought afflicted waterways to eastern lake ontario. from their trip by a larger boat west on the lake ontario, a long portage of around niagara falls, and finally into erie canal and the other great lakes, it was a long circuitous arduous voyage not easily or often taken. the erie canal made a direct connection between albany and his new york city by the easily navigable hudson and then struggling frontier settlement of buffalo on lake erie.
with and can now three and 63 miles rose across unbroken wilderness 83 locks into a 700 feet of elevation change and just 40 feet wide and 4 feet deep with but it was the firstborn of union, the race that was used to describe it before was finally approved, the first barnhart of union between the eastern seaboard states and the vast and settle the interior. immediately begin a conduit for people in manufacturing goods headed west and raw materials and produce coming east. with new york city as a gateway for immigration from and commerce with europe. the canal was begun after much political popular an economic debate in 1917 completed 1825, cost $7 million entirely funded by new york state and a time when the capital in new york state was $20 million and this cost seven, but the $7 million was entirely recovered by tolls on the canal within eight years.
when tolls were abolished in 1882, total revenues were $121 million, total construction and maintenance cost including in march and completed just before the civil war was $80 million, for a profit of $41 million on $7 million project. now an argument could be made that we are. new york city today because of the erie canal, without it we might be living in philadelphia or alexandria, charleston, savannah or maybe even new orleans. if the erie canal hadn't made new york city the center of the commercial world and established habitual roots of trade and travel, the railroad which kimmel on how much later it might have made other coastal places greater. now, a lot of material and the book is the traditional erie canal tale but i've selected some of the myth busing for this brief talk.
what, the irish to not build the erie canal, at least not in a significant numbers until halfway through that nine construction seasons. the early contractors were pioneer farmer sends out dollars, almost unbearable refugees from bad farms in connecticut, the workers on the canal sections that these farmers contract for were mostly their sons or their farmhands. it was only when the most dangerous work eventually needed to be done on the western portions of the line blocking out malarial swamps and blasting limestone ridges that the legendary kings of irish immigrant laborers that work on the erie canal. another little bit of minibus in -- the father of american civil engineering, that was his title, the title that he came to have a, erie chief engineer barry wright, in turn them as something of a questionable
paternity. right, like every so-called erie is too near was at best a skilled country surveyor at a time when there were no trained or experienced american engineers, but it was interesting to discover that before erie he had been fired by a land development company for failing to lay ever to their property and more importantly he was nearly fired from his erie job in the first months of construction and. is seen to is pursuing other surveying work and on state time and also avoiding hazardous erie fieldwork in unhealthy terrain for the first bits of the line were led. he came very close to getting fired a couple of months after construction began. in 1839 the first attempt to create a professional society of american engineers with the right at its head failed to win a majority voted against the side is proposed constitution, affectively a projection of wright himself by his peers.
the present american society of civil engineers which is formed after wright's staff proclaimed him the father of american civil engineering in 1969. inouye well deserved honor for his ultimately successful erie project and later canal and railroad work, but not an honor that his peers would have given a man who many perceive as a flatter her of his employers and a credit stealer from subordinates. with another area -- hydraulic cement. the true discovery of america in waterproof cement and that not a particularly sexy topic, but the masonry structures of the canal, the locks and waste waters and various other components of the canal made of stone that needed to be sealed with hydraulic cement, they could not have been built without the cement of the right kind of burned and
pulverized limestone mixed with sand and hardens and water. the full story of the discovery was planted on wittingly in the erie bible bashing 1906 state authorized tuesday to commit to volume history, sort of a starting point for research of the erie canal. and the story in that book has been repeated ever since. and now it turns out that the offer of that book is well-respected engineer had picked up the cement story from an unreliable county history published locally a half century earlier in 30 years after the fact one of the principals were dead. but the hero of a false story is a young erie engineer named kansas wide to did, in fact, get the patent in 1824 waterproofs event, and vigorously but unsuccessfully defended in court. he lost a lot of money in the process including the $2,000 he had secretly paid to the true
discover from the canals agent for securing lima and other materials, a fellow named andrew bartow who had conducted a painstaking experiments on some samples to find rights down. minister of letters and other obscure documents reveal an arm's-length deal between the two men in which whites gave it bartow $2,000 for the privilege of pursuing a patent and also gave barstow a 25% silent interest in profits from the patent of which there turned out to be non. patents were very harsh to defend and as a is and the commissioners, new york state commissioners in charge of the building of the canal was really a part of the truth had no interest in any other contractors paying royalties on the cement would have made their job more expensive and. the commissioners claimed that the discovery was made in the
process of their employees that do use. there's much to the story and you have to go to the book to get much of the details but that is the basics of a. this two-story that it was bartow and not white discovered hydraulic cement may not be especially important to the general reader, but this event itself was very important part of a formulation that part of discovered and that a white family came to later sexpot -- successfully manufacture in competition with other manufacturers that was actually the best manufacturers of the cement. the cement and they made was used to build new york city's at aqueduct, the first water supply for new york city, the footings of the brooklyn bridge, the puzzle of the statue of liberty, and the walls of the panama canal. another bit of new material in erie, what i call the mohawk crisscross of 1821 -- 1822, and
this situation never written about in any other erie canal book is best i can tell, it. benjamin wright, the father of american civil engineering against a father against john rendell, a relative of randalls island, the various palin, but in albany native and very prominent family in albany, new york. news a skills survey air and the man who had just spent a dozen years laying out and mapping the future street grids of manhattan. we're here on 57 straight because 200 years ago john randolph put markers for thousands of a rectilinear blocks on what was then a very rugged and rural landscape. so john randall of the year is the background -- the path of the canal in the mohawk valley was supposed to be entirely along the southern bank of the river. using peters from the mohawk for to water the canal and now
between and connecting in albany the mohawk makes a very big north toward art in the most eastern section of the mohawk river. with a false finally spilling the mohawk into the hudson. it now mandola involved himself in the process, he had been invited, he had been asked to becoming the engineer on the erie canal and has said no probably because he was still continuing his work in manhattan and have other projects to is doing but in any case at a certain point he asserts himself into this issue of the eastern end of the canal and he thinks, and he publicizes his thoughts, that the canal of to leave the mohawk valley and take a much shorter and cheaper and direct route to albany. along a route and i that he had after 15 years earlier. so randall stars making some noise about it and publishes some anonymous newspaper
articles and anonymous pamphlets, and chief engineer right problem besides just before this section of the canal is to be built right to decide to go in exactly the opposite direction in the mud that is not take randall's direct route from there to albany or even continue along the southern side of the mohawk as it marks north and eventually down toward albany, but he decides to cross over the often a flood ravaged mohawk on an opera back to the north side of the rubber. stay on the north side for 12 miles and then recrossed the river on another acrobat in a wooden trough, not very substantial acrobat, recrossed the river 12 miles along back to the south side. now, right presented this decision as an engineering necessity but it appears actually, in fact, to have with
more of a political decision coming to give the canal a run in saratoga county on the north side of the river for the benefit of certain interests there be this much more to it, we don't have time to tell-all the details now, but it is i suppose comforting to know that the ways that we see in public-works projects today has a long legacy. right and randall became bitter enemies and a couple of years later they wanted to gather on the chesapeake and delaware canal, a very short but very important canal connecting the chesapeake bay and delaware bay. right is the chief engineer and john randall is the chief contractor and after a few months, right to consider brandel a line nincompoop in a private letter, it gets randall fired from the chesapeake and delaware canal, randall's use in the case eventually goes to the
u.s. supreme court. brandel wins a quarter of a million dollars which is in a store near amount of money, about a tenth of the value of the sea and the canal, and he builds a mansion overlooking the canal which is eventually build exactly on the lines that he has suggested and that wright had claimed was wrong. and goes down every morning to collect tolls. [laughter] which is how he collected his quarter million dollars because the canal company was not -- didn't believe pay off the judgment against him. and in any case, there are other aspects of the book that i think our new material which i don't think we really have time to go into your. you have a very long competition between new york and virginia about which state will get west first. and it has been talked about in other erie books but i should stress in this one that for
decades in washington, george washington and thomas jefferson who owned land in the ohio river valley speculators of land and desperately tried to find a way to get the potomac river to improve it and get it to to go over the mountains and on to the other side and then to to the terrace of ohio -- ohio river valley, but the potomac unfortunately was really not up to the task and not the way new york's mohawk river makes a relatively easy through a break in the appalachian mountain chain. interestingly, in 1817 just before new york decides to go ahead with the canal, a bill goes through congress, a bill called the bonus bill which essentially provides the money for a state infrastructure
projects in madison, james madison on his last day in office and congress have been working toward this bill thinking that madison want this sort of thing, because he has spoken about it in his inaugural address the previous year, madison vetoes the bill on his last day in office. arguably he says, on constitutional grounds, the of the federal government has no business using the treasury to support state projects and obviously things have changed considerably since then, but at the time some of that argument of people in new york thought the real reason for this very surprising a veto is that medicine suddenly realized that most of the money that would be flowing out of this bonus bill would be going to new york for its erie canal project. and then new york goes ahead right away state legislature
approves the project and funds it with state issued bonds which also is very unique situation at that time in the country. so you have this very intense competition between new york and virginia and with the erie canal, new york essentially winds of lease to the commercial part of the competition. there are some other things i think we can talk about, i forgot to 7:00 o'clock to see how long i have been going, but i wanted to say something that is not actually in the book but there has been a lot of talk lately about a national infrastructure bank. i don't know if people are aware of it, but it is in the obama budget, senator dodd from connecticut has a bill in the senate to create a national infrastructure bank, felix rohatyn, the new york city finance year who helped new york city at of its desperate financial straits in the 1970's has a book out calling for a
national infrastructure bank. and all three of them and other people to site the erie canal as the first major piece of infrastructure that was built in the country and this sort of thing we should be doing again. it's interesting to me that there are significant efforts to recreate -- to create and build and rebuild america's infrastructure and the erie canal was cited, but it almost seems as though a lot of the citation of the erie canal is somewhat blind. there aren't very many similarities between how new york city -- new york state built the erie canal and how the federal government now my support infrastructure products -- projects. however, there is one a very important similarity or one way
in which two this erie canal i think would help inform the debate about whether the federal government should be creating a national infrastructure bank to fund infrastructure projects and that is one that is essential for there to be a single person that owns the project and with the erie canal i have not mentioned him yet but if anybody knows anything about the erie canal knows i am talking about clinton. with dewitt clinton there is a myth about clinton that it was he who dreamed up the erie canal. well, of course, it wasn't, it was actually had first been proposed in 1807 by a fellow who had intended to be the first western grain merchant to western new york but he went broke because he discovered there actually was no good way to get the grain grown by the
pioneer farmers of western new york actually to get that grain used as i described, there was no good route, and you roundup this fellow jesse holly is his name, another connecticut native who tried to find his fortune in the west in western new york anyway, he winds up in debtors' prison and under a pseudonym rights newspaper essays arguing for proposing and arguing for a canal across new york state directly to lake erie. so it was actually jesse hollies idea but dewitt clinton picks up the idea three years later and he is a guy that makes the erie canal have been. if you don't know anything about the with clinton, he is a longtime new york city mayor, new york state lawmaker, a congressman, one of the canal commissioners eventually come a long time york governor, new
york city civic benefactor, social reformer, and nearly president in 1812 over madison but for the then swing state of pennsylvania. with but clinton has to be credited for seeing the wisdom of the erie idea and attaching himself carry early to the effort and he becomes its chief promoter and clinton is a very popular leader, scrupulously honest, not something we often see in public officials, but at the same time a careless and often reviled politician. but he lets astounding public attacks roll off his back and he is the single individual who guides canal's financing in popular support. if clinton had taken any of the many outrageous assaults against him or succumbed to self
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