Erie Canal Builds America

Bond of Union, Gerard Koeppel, 2009 Jesse Hawley first proposed a canal across central New York state linking Lake Erie with the Hudson River in an essay published in the newsweekly "Commonwealth" in 1807.  He used the alias "Hercules" to maintain anonymity for such an outrageous idea.  After much politicking, construction was begun on July 4, 1817 and completed in October, 1825.  The Erie canal became a powerful link between the eastern and western states.  The commerce that flowed through this link created New York City as "The Big Apple", created a truly united states by breaking the economic isolation caused by the Appalachian Mountains.  The Erie Canal propelled the North to dominance over the south that had opportunities during the previous fifty years to expand routes of commerce to the west but failed to do so.

I was not taught much, if anything about the first twenty five years of our nineteenth century history in school but, after some study, it appears to be a vastly important era.  It was the time when the Marshall Court created the foundational jurisprudence for the nation.  It was the age of the development of the steamboat and steam locomotives and it was the age of the canal, best exemplified by the Erie Canal.  It was the proliferation of canals throughout the U.S. that gave great voltage to our economic growth.