Beautiful Machine: Rivers and the Republican Plan, 1755-1825

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9780195045512: Beautiful Machine: Rivers and the Republican Plan, 1755-1825
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This book, the second volume in Seelye's series on the rivers of America in the American imagination, explores how George Washington's vision of a "more perfect union" for America--based upon the linking of the nation's waterways by technical means--was carried out. The first volume, Prophetic Waters, dealt with the way rivers, especially in Virginia, influenced life and literature of the period. This book takes the story into the opening decades of the nineteenth century by showing, first, the exploration of the Ohio, Missouri, and Mississippi rivers, then the construction of the canals that connected these water systems, and finally, the creation of steamboats to navigate these Western rivers. Yet the net result, as Seelye shows, was quite different from, even antithetical to, Washington's original vision. Seelye ranges widely in the literature and personal narratives of the period to put these developments in an imaginative and cultural context.

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