Nature, Nationalism, Tourism: The Erie Canal and the Quest for America American in the Early Republic John Krimmel, 4th of July, 1819 in Philadelphia American in the Early Republic American in the Early Republic American in the Early Republic Identity Crisis “Roof without Walls” National identity can’t be sustained by high ideals alone Too abstract, not part of daily life Nationalism seeks to build identity through race, environment, and history “Imagined Community” History Washington at Valley Forge Battle of Lake Ontario Howard Chandler Christy, Scene at the Signing of the Constitution National Allegory Columbia Magazine (1786) Edward Savage, Liberty in the form of the Goddess of Youth Giving Support to the Bald Eagle (1796) Neo-Classical Ideal Greek Revival House, Elmira, NY Horatio Greenough, Enthroned Washington (1840) America Needs Its Own Culture Lacks material from which to build a culture: Epic history Long literary tradition Monuments and Ancient Architecture Ruins Too many artists were copying European themes and literary models Finding America in Nature “The region in which [the Revolution] took place abounds with grand and beautiful scenery, possessing some peculiar forms. The numerous waterfalls, the enchanting beauty of Lake George and its pellucid flood, of Lake Champlain, and the lesser lakes, afford many objects of the most picturesque character…. Nothing comparable to this…can be seen in any part of Europe.” --William Tudor (1815) “By freeing himself from a habit of servile imitation; by daring to think and feel, and express his feelings; by dwelling on scenes and events connected with our pride and our affections; by indulging in those little peculiarities of thought, feeling and expression which belong to every nation; by borrowing from nature, and not from those who disfigure or burlesque her—he may and will in time destroy the ascendency of foreign tastes and opinions, and elevate his own in the place of them.” --James Kirke Paulding (1820) Getting to Know America Thomas Cole, Shroon Mountain Asher B. Durant The Beeches Kindred Spirits As wealth has accumulated, the country become populous, and society more fixed in its character, a return to those simple and fascinating enjoyments to be found in country life and rural pursuits, is witnessed on every side. And to this innate feeling, out of which grows a strong attachment to natal soil, we must look for a counterpoise to the great tendency toward constant change, and the restless spirit of emigration, which form in part our national character; and which are. . .opposed to our social and domestic happiness. . . . The love of country is inseparably connected with the love of home. Andrew Jackson Downing, Treatise on the Theory and Practice of Landscape Gardening (1841) Visual Aesthetics The Beautiful Platonic ideal Smooth Delicate Mild in color (not garish) Claude Lorraine, Pastoral The Sublime Dramatic, overpowering Source of powerful feelings from awe to terror Obscurity Vastness Without clear lines of definition Salvator Rosa, The Bandits The Picturesque “Middle ground” between Beautiful and Sublime Complex & eccentric form Irregular surfaces provoke viewer’s curiosity Associative—landscape evokes cultural memories, analogies, & emotions Jasper Cropsey, Wyoming Valley of Pennsylvania Thomas Cole, “Essay on American Scenery” It is a subject that to every American ought to be of surpassing interest; for, whether he beholds the Hudson mingling waters with the Atlantic—explores the central wilds of this vast continent, or stands on the margin of the distant Oregon, he is still in the midst of American scenery—it is his own land; its beauty, its magnificence, its sublimity—are all his; and how undeserving of such a birthright, if he can turn towards it in an unobserving eye, an unaffected heart! The delight [of looking on Nature] a man experiences is not merely sensual or selfish, that passes with the occasion leaving no trace behind; but in gazing on the pure creations of the Almighty, he feels a calm religious tone steal through his minds, and when he has turned to mingle with his fellow men, the chords which have been struck in that sweet communion cease not to vibrate. The Grand Tour The Northern Traveler (1826) Highlights of the Grand Tour New York City Catskill Mountains and Catskill Mountain House Albany Saratoga Springs/Ballston Spa White Mountains/Willey House Albany Trenton Falls Niagara Falls Tourism and the Erie Canal How Erie Canal Aided Tourism • Access to Interior • faster passage to Niagara • improved roads and infrastructure alongside canal • as canal towns grew, so did accommodations • Canal became a tourist attraction in its own right • by 1820, passenger vessels • by 1822 packet lines Tourist Highlights of Erie Canal Progress The growth of cities and farms in what was once wilderness The Canal as Engineering Achievement Locks and Aqueducts Five-tier Locks at Lockport Dramatic Natural Scenery Little Falls Trenton Falls Niagara Falls This is one of the largest and most important of the western towns. Here the river, the great road, and the canal all meet again. . . . There are several handsome churches in Utica, and one or more for almost every domination. The streets are broad, straight, and commodius; and the principal ones well built with rows of brick stores, or elegant dwelling-houses. The Northern Traveller (1832), on Utica The Aqueduct over the Genesee is one of the finest works on the course of the canal, and is no less remarkable for its usefulness than for its architectural beauty and strength. It is borne across the river’s channel on ten arches of hewn stone. The river dashes rapidly along beneath while boats, with goods and passengers, glide safely above. The Northern Traveller (1832), on the Rochester Aqueduct Wm. Bartlett, Lockport (1840) This is one of the interesting places on the canal. Here is the noblest displays of locks, two ranges, made of fine hewn stone, being constructed against the brow of the Mountain Ridge, where the foaming of the waste water, the noise of the horns, and the bustle of occupation excite many lively feelings. The Northern Traveller (1832), on Lockport This most interesting vicinity is well worthy the attention of every person of taste, being justly considered one of the finest natural scenes in this part of the country. . . a stranger might spend some time here very agreeably in observing [the falls] at leisure, and in catching the fine trout with which the creek abounds. The Northern Traveller (1832), on Trenton Falls Wm. Bartlett, Little Falls at Night (1840) The country presents a varied surface, and increases in interest on approaching Little Falls, which is the most romantic scene on the course of the Erie Canal. . . . The stranger should, by no means, neglect the view of this place. If he reaches it early or late in a pleasant day, particularly near the rising of the sun, the beauty of the scene will be redoubled. The Northern Traveller (1832), on Little Falls Niagara Falls Walter Kelly, Waterfall of Niagara (1830s) Fr. Northern Traveller Frederic Church, Niagara Falls (1857) Other Highlights of Erie Canal Travel Writing Manners in America Both British and American writers note to manners of locals (often quite critically) Basil Hall on table manners (ECR 37-38) Thomas Hamilton on baptism (ECR 53) Frances Trollope on Yankees (ECR 64-65) Nathaniel Hawthorne on travel writers (ECR 81-82) (Dis)comforts of Canal Travel Hamilton on boredom (ECR 55-56) Harriet Martineau on bridges/heat/filth (ECR 71-73) Harriet Beecher Stowe on the chaos of the women’s quarters (ECR 96-102) Useful Readings Cole, Thomas. “Essay on American Scenery” (1836). https://www.csun.edu/~ta3584/Cole.htm Conron, John. American Picturesque. University Park: Penn State UP, 2000. Downing, Andrew Jackson. Landscape Gardening and Rural Architecture (1841). New York: Dover, 1991. Dwight, Timothy. The Northern Traveller and Northern Tour: with the routes to The Springs, Niagara, and Quebec and the Coal Mines of Pennsylvania; also, the Tour of New-England. New York: J & J Harper, 1831. (available on Google Books) Gassan, Richard H. The Birth of American Tourism: New York, the Hudson Valley, and American Culture, 1790-1830. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2008. Miller, Angela. The Empire of the Eye: Landscape Representation and American Cultural Politics, 1825-1875. Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1993. Paulding, James Kirke. National Literature (1820). Gordon Hunter, ed. American Literature, American Culture. New York: Oxford UP, 1999. 24-25. Sears, John F. Sacred Places: American Tourist Attractions in the Nineteenth-Century. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1989. Sherrif, Carol. The Artificial River: The Erie Canal and the Paradox of Progress, 1817-1862. New York: Hill and Wang, 1996. Tudor, William. Essay from North American Review (1815). Gordon Hunter, ed. American Literature, American Culture. New York: Oxford UP, 1999. 12-23. Westover, Paul. “How America ‘Inherited’ Literary Tourism.” Nicola J. Watson, ed. Literary Tourism and NineteenthCentury Culture. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009. 184-195.