"Little Short Of Madness"

A bold dream to connect the Hudson to the Great Lakes by canal created a transportation revolution

As mayor of New York City and later as governor of New York State, De Witt Clinton crusaded so zealously for a canal connecting Albany to Buffalo that the project became known as “Clinton’s Ditch.” It was a dream of pharaonic proportions—a 363-mile-long artificial waterway that most people considered impossible.

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10 Moments That Made American Business

How a debt-ridden banana republic became the greatest economic engine the world has ever known

It has been 400 years since European settlement began in what is now the United States. In that time a land occupied by a few million Neolithic hunter-gatherers has been transformed into the mightiest economy ever known, producing nearly one-third of the world’s goods and services. There are few economic sectors indeed, from agricultural exports to jet-aircraft production to entertainment, in which the United States does not lead.

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40 More Critical Moments In American Business History

1. 1606: The Virginia Company is formed to seek profit from a new business: American settlement.

2. 1612: John Rolfe plants West Indian tobacco in Virginia, the cash crop that assures the colony’s success.

3. 1614: John Smith, finding no gold, sets his men to fishing for cod off New England, pointing the way to the area’s first economic mainstay. Read more »

The Erie Rising

All along its 360-mile route, towns to which the canal gave birth are looking to its powerful ghost for economic revival.

Armed with a faded picture and a dream, we set out from the supermarket parking lot. Our quest: one of the last visible remnants of the old Erie Canal. We check our equipment, hike through the wilderness of SUVs and shopping carts, and toil up a slope. At the summit, a full minute later, we scout ahead. Nothing but trees. We spot some natives. Following their directions, we negotiate our way through a trackless wasteland. And there it is: the Erie Canal, covered with brush and trees and chest-high ferns.

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