Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
The Hudson

The Hudson: A History

Tom Lewis
Copyright Date: 2005
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 352
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    The Hudson
    Book Description:

    The Hudson River has always played a vital role in American culture. Flowing through a valley of sublime scenery, the great river uniquely connects America's past with its present and future. This book traces the course of the river through four centuries, recounting the stories of explorers and traders, artists and writers, entrepreneurs and industrialists, ecologists and preservationists-those who have been shaped by the river as well as those who have helped shape it. Their compelling narratives attest to the Hudson River's distinctive place in American history and the American imagination.

    Among those who have figured in the history of the Hudson are Benedict Arnold, Alexander Hamilton, Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, the Astors and the Vanderbilts, and Thomas Cole of the Hudson River school. Their stories appear here, alongside those of such less famous individuals as the surveyor who found the source of the Hudson and the engineer who tried to build a hydroelectric plant at Storm King Mountain. Inviting us to view the river from a wider perspective than ever before, this entertaining and enlightening book is worthy of its grand subject.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-12906-9
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations Export to NoodleTools Export to RefWorks Export to EasyBib Export a RIS file (For EndNote, ProCite, Reference Manager, Zotero, Mendeley...) Export a Text file (For BibTex)
  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Map of the Hudson River valley
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-9)

    In 1900 Francis Bannerman faced a dangerous problem. The dealer in military surplus, who had begun trading in armaments after the Civil War, had just purchased 90 percent of the munitions and matériel left over from the Spanish-American War, a rich horde of small arms, cannon, ammunition, and gunpowder. The supplies were far too hazardous to stockpile in his store at 501 Broadway in New York City. His son, who had recently returned from a canœ outing on the Hudson, told him of seeing Pollepel Island in the river’s highlands about fifty miles above Manhattan and just south of the...

  5. CHAPTER 1 The River and the Land
    (pp. 10-36)

    The landscape of the Hudson is a giant palimpsest, a great parchment on which the hand of nature has written and rewritten her bold signature for more than a billion years. As we look upon the nearly vertical cliffs of New Jersey’s Palisades from Manhattan’s Riverside Park, or take in the view of Rip Van Winkle’s Catskill Mountains from the shore of Robert Livingston’s Clermont estate in Columbia County, or step across the swift waters of the Opalescent River on the slope of Mount Marcy, we see just the top layer of writing on the land of the Hudson.


  6. CHAPTER 2 Explorers and Traders
    (pp. 37-55)

    He was fired by a single passion, to find a way to reach Cathay, a passion fed by the widespread fiction that somewhere over the top of the earth, or eventhroughthe land we know as North America, the passage to the East awaited discovery. His passion made him willful and headstrong; it brought him into conflict with his sailors as well as the companies that supplied him with ships and provisions. Such affairs mattered little to his determined nature; he would explore the globe on his own terms and gain the fame that awaited the one who found...

  7. CHAPTER 3 The Colonizers Arrive
    (pp. 56-92)

    In many ways the Dutch had the good fortune to establish the center of their North American colony in the Hudson River valley, for the rhythms of the Hudson’s tidal estuary proved to be similar to the waters that had surrounded them in Europe. From their experience with their great rivers, the Rhine, the Maas, and the Scheldt, they understood drainage and agriculture. The protection that the Narrows and the Upper Bay of the Hudson gives to Manhattan Island is similar to the effects of the Zuider Zee in Amsterdam. The abundance of fish in the river’s estuary, especially at...

  8. CHAPTER 4 The Valley Transformed
    (pp. 93-124)

    The Treaty of Westminster had enormous significance for the English monarchy. Since 1497, when John Cabot claimed Newfoundland for Henry VII, British interest in North America had been quietly growing. By 1640 England counted three colonies on the continent: Virginia and Maryland in the south and the Massachusetts Bay Company in New England. Following the treaty in 1674, the British could boast a contiguous coastline between Virginia and present-day Maine, united, albeit loosely, under their military, civil, and commercial authority and aligned against the French, whose presence in the St. Lawrence valley posed a continual threat. The Hudson River valley...

  9. Map of Livingston and Rensselaer family lands
    (pp. 100-100)
  10. CHAPTER 5 The Only Passage
    (pp. 125-149)

    In the long and far-ranging fight over the newly declared United States of America, of all the regions involved, the Hudson River valley posed the greatest concern to the revolutionaries and the greatest opportunity to the British. Both Sir William Howe, their commander in chief, and George Washington knew that the deepwater port at the mouth of the Hudson offered a safe harbor for vessels, good wharfage for unloading matériel, as well as houses and a fort for billeting troops; they recognized that the river neatly divided the four New England states from the eight states south of New York;...

  11. CHAPTER 6 The Democratic River
    (pp. 150-185)

    At nine o’clock on the morning of August 15, 1824, the packet shipCadmus, thirty-one days out of Le Havre, passed into the Narrows of New York harbor. From Fort Lafayette on the Brooklyn side of the water came the report of thirteen guns fired in salute of the ship’s famous passenger, Marie-Joseph-Paul-Yves-Roch-Gilbert du Motier de Lafayette, the last surviving major general of the American Revolution. After an absence of forty-two years, the man whose personal valor, integrity, and idealism had made him an abiding symbol of the good will and spiritual solidarity of America and France, was returning to...

  12. CHAPTER 7 Definers of the Landscape
    (pp. 186-224)

    Since 1609, when Henry Hudson’s first mate Robert Juet remarked in his journal that “this is a very good Land to fall with and a very pleasant Land to see,” travelers have looked upon the Hudson River valley in wonder and delight. About two hundred years after Juet sailed into the river, artists and entrepreneurs began to shape their impressions of the valley in a conscious way. The result was the first American literature that gained the attention of readers in Europe, the first indigenous school of art, and one of the first outlines of architectural precepts that sought to...

  13. CHAPTER 8 River of Fortunes
    (pp. 225-253)

    A great cannon was fired at exactly 2:20 on the afternoon of Monday, February 18, 1861, when the flag-draped train bearing Abraham Lincoln and his family came to a halt on Broadway in downtown Albany. Lincoln was en route from Spring field, Illinois, to Washington to take the oath of office. “Show us the Rail-splitter,” and “Trot out old ABE,” shouted the crowd waiting for the president-elect to appear. After some delay, he emerged dressed in a “shocking bad hat, and a very thin old overcoat,” to receive the welcome of Albany’s mayor and the governor. Speaking before the New...

  14. CHAPTER 9 Twentieth-Century Waters
    (pp. 254-282)

    It was the greatest and longest celebration in the history of the Hudson Valley, a two-week festival commencing on September 25, 1909, to celebrate the achievements of Henry Hudson in 1609 and Robert Fulton in 1807. From New York City to Troy the organizers scheduled parades, flotillas, light shows, art and scientific exhibitions, and long-winded speeches. The people of Holland sent a full-scale reproduction of theHalf Moon;a descendant of Chancellor Livingston helped to launch an exact replica of Fulton’s first steamboat. The navies of England, Germany, France, and the Netherlands each sent a squadron of battleships, submarines, and...

  15. Notes
    (pp. 283-314)
  16. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 315-316)
  17. Index
    (pp. 317-340)