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The History of the Hudson River Valley: From Wilderness to the Civil War

The History of the Hudson River Valley: From Wilderness to the Civil War

by Vernon Benjamin


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Over the next two centuries, this drowned landscape would be the site of a truly historic flowering of art, literature, architecture, innovation, and revolutionary fervor—drawing comparisons to another fertile cultural haven built around a might mighty river in Western Europe. As historian Vernon Benjamin chronicles, the Hudson River Valley has been a place of contradictions since its first settlement by Europeans. Discovered by an Englishman who claimed it for the Dutch, the region soon became home to the most vibrant trading outpost for the New World colonies—the Island of Manhattan—even as the rest of the valley retained the native beauty that would inspire artists from James Fenimore Cooper to Thomas Cole. Because of its unique geography and proximity to Canada, the Hudson Valley became the major theater for the battle between empires in the French and Indian War. When the colonists united in rebellion against the British several decades later, conflict came to the region once again, with decisive military engagements from Saratoga to West Point to the occupied New York Harbor. In the aftermath, New York emerged as the capital of a new nation, and wealth from the city flowed north to the burgeoning Valley, leading to a renaissance of culture and commerce that is still evident today. Richly illustrated and scrupulously researched, Vernon Benjamin’s magisterial new history will be the definitive text for years to come.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781590200797
Publisher: ABRAMS
Publication date: 06/04/2014
Pages: 624
Sales rank: 722,103
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.20(h) x 2.10(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Vernon Benjamin has lectured on the history of the Hudson Valley at Marist College and Bard College since 2003. He holds a Masters in Literature from Long Island University and a Bachelors in Sociology from Siena College. A former editor of the New Saugerties Times, he has written extensively on the Hudson Valley for various publications and has appeared on C-SPAN. He lives in Saugerties, New York.

Table of Contents

Preface xi

I "All Creation, Lad"

1 Paleo Prelude 3

2 The View from the Pine Orchard 7

3 How Old Is the Hudson Valley? 12

4 Life Comes to the Hudson Valley 21

5 The Silence in the Stones 24

6 The Coming of the Wilden 30

7 Trails to M'skatak 37

II New Netherland

8 The First Europeans 45

9 Thirty-Two Days on the Road to Cathay 46

10 The Two Row Wampum 54

11 The Stamppot Thickens 57

12 An Astonishing Plentitude 65

13 Season of the Kiwit 71

14 Rensselaerswijck 77

15 Esopus and the Indian Wars 82

16 Petrus Stuyvesant's World 87

17 The Coming of the English 93

III The English Period

18 The New Hegemony 97

19 An Inglorious Evolution 101

20 Boat People Tales 105

21 The Invisible Man 110

22 Disposition of the Patents 117

23 The Manor World 125

24 The Yankee Doodle Dandies 132

25 The Looming Conflict 142

IV From Revolution to Federalism

26 Flight of the Continentals 151

27 The Phoenix and the Rose 161

28 A State on the Run 165

29 The Turning Point 170

30 The Borders War 179

31 A Gallows at Tappan 187

32 With the Army at Newburgh 198

33 Salutations and Adieus 211

34 Twilight and Prelude 214

35 A Hot Summer in Poughkeepsie 224

36 The Death of Federalism 229

V An Emerging Nationalism

37 Boy Politicos 243

38 What Rip Van Winkle Saw 253

39 A Pastoral Era 263

40 The Saddlebags 275

41 Steeples Rising 281

42 Feats of the Engineers 289

43 By Water and Rail 297

VI The Romantics

44 The Antecedents 317

45 Inventing Diedrich 321

46 Fireside Chats 327

47 Tidewater Literature 335

48 Poe in the Valley 343

49 Il Bello e Il Buono 351

50 Vanderlyn's Choice 359

51 Three Paintings in a Window 363

VII Coming of Age in the Hudson River Valley

52 An Expanding Economy 375

53 The Antebellum Wars 384

54 Calico Warriors 392

55 Destination Ways 401

56 The Croton Bug 407

57 Manifest Destiny News 412

VIII The Rising Fury

58 Sam, Gramp and Ren 421

59 Freedom Deferred 426

60 Isabella Journeys 430

61 The Immediatists 436

62 The Struggle 440

IX The Civil War

63 The Bearded Stranger 451

64 Mobilizing the Valley 455

65 Custer's First Stand 465

66 Faces Across a Field 471

67 By Pen and by Sword 478

68 Bouquets for Abraham 486

Epilogue 491

Sources 493

Index 539

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

“Thoroughly informative, approachable . . . A model for how to enliven geography, anthropology and biography and weave them into a microcosmic account of America.” —The New York Times 

“When describing the astonishing beauty of New York’s Hudson River Valley, author Benjamin’s prose(and those from whom he quotes) is suitably lyrical and eloquent.” —Booklist

Customer Reviews