DeWitt Clinton

John Wesley Jarvis, John Wesleyc. 1816

Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery

Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery

De Witt Clinton, masterful politician of New York—in and out of office as mayor of the city and governor of the state—was a man who saw America with the potential for unlimited progress. His great dream was for a canal linking the Great Lakes with the Hudson River. When expected federal financing did not materialize, Clinton set out to put public pressure for funding on the state legislature. A bond issue was approved just in time for Clinton, newly elected as governor, to preside over the groundbreaking ceremonies on July 4, 1817. Eight years later, Clinton, returned to office, directed the great celebration of the Erie Canal's completion. "Clinton's Ditch" was a popular and immediate financial success and contributed enormously to the growth and prosperity of New York and the Northwest Territory as well.

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