The Buffalo - Erie Canal Foundation

        Cadwallader D. Colden's 1825 Memoir about New York's Canals discusses the history of New York State Canals through 1825, and plans for the future.  In it, he makes the following comments on the uniqueness of the Erie Canal.  It must be remembered that the United states was barely half a century old, compared to the long-established nations of Europe and Asia.
        The text is presented in its original Nineteenth Century form and composition, complete with variations in spelling and archaic colloquialisms, courtesy of Raymond Huckles, who owns the original document.


 MEMOIR.                                                                   71

      It has been said, in this Memoir, that the Erie Canal is the longest in the world.  It is believed that it is so; but it must be recollected that we speak of it as one continuous uninterrupted artificial Canal, for upwards of three hundred and sixty miles.

      As has been mentioned, England has more than a hundred Canals: but she has no one, which, independent of branches extends a hundred miles.

      The largest Canal in France is the Canal of Languedoc, which is one hundred and fifteen miles.

       The inland navigation of Russia is so extensive, that it is said to be possible to convey goods by water near four thousand five hundred miles, but this is by using her Lakes, and natural watercourses, which are connected by Canals, no one of which is more than half as long as the Erie Canal.


       Colden concludes his Memoir by noting that in less than fifty years, during eleven of which the nation was at war, one State of the union was able to complete a Canal system remarkable enough to quiet the skeptics abroad.

98                                                                               MEMOIR.

      But, whatever may be thought abroad, we cannot but have a just pride in the execution of works, which are not surpassed.  Posterity will look back to those who transmitted these blessings, with admiration and veneration.  The fourth of November, eighteen hundred and twenty-five, when we shall for the first time, have in our harbour boats from Lake Erie, will ever live in the memories of grateful people;  and the splendor with which that event will be celebrated by the city of New York, will be remembered, as an evidence of the patriotism and liberality of her citizens and magistrates.


       From the hyperbole of the Memoir, we can appreciate that the completion of the Erie Canal was truly a BIG DEAL.  The following text and images are excerpted from the Appendix to the 1825 Memoir

294                                                                           APPENDIX.

      Intelligence having been received by the Corporation of New York, from the acting Canal Commissioners, that the gigantic work would be completed and prepared for navigation on the twenty-sixth of October, measures were immediately taken by that body, in connexion with the principal cities and villages along its extended line, for the celebration of the event, in a manner corresponding with its magnitude and importance; and in order that our fellow-citizens at the West might be duly apprised of the feelings of the metropolis on the occasion, a Com­mittee, consisting of Alderman King and Alderman Davis, was dispatched to Buffalo, to tender the hospitalities of our City to the several Committees which might be appointed on the route, to participate in the festivities of the occasion. But to guard against the disappointment that might arise from any unforeseen accident, which might have retarded the work beyond the specified time, arrangements were made for the firing of a grand salute, to be commenced at Buffalo, at a given hour, and continued to New York, by guns stationed at suitable points along the whole intermediate distance. The Committee arrived safely at Buffalo, where they were received with a cordial welcome, and found-the Canal completed, and every thing prepared for the commencement of the celebration.

      Early on the morning of the twenty-sixth of October, the appointed day, the village thronged with the yeomanry of the country, who, alive to the subject, had assembled in vast numbers to witness the attendant ceremonies of the departure of the first boat. At about nine o'clock the public procession was formed in front of the Court House, in which the various societies of mechanics appeared, with appropriate badges and banners to distinguish each; the whole preceded by the Buffalo band, and Capt. Rathburn's Company of Riflemen, and followed by the Committees, strangers, &c. Thus formed, the procession moved through the street to the head of the Canal, where the boat, Seneca Chief, elegantly fitted, was in waiting. Here the Governor and Lieut. Governor of the State, the New York Delegation, with the various Committees from different villages, including that of Buffalo, were received on board, and after mutual introductions in the open air, Jesse Hawley, Esq. delivered an Address, brief, and peculiarly appropriate, in behalf of the citizens of Rochester. He was deputed "to mingle and reciprocate their mutual congratulations with the citizens of Buffalo on this grand epoch." The Canal, as a matter of State pride, was  spoken  of  with  much  felicity-- “A  work  that  will  constitute  the  lever  of  industry, population,






























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