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DeWitt Clinton and Amos Eaton

, 284 pages

7 halftones, 3 line drawings

June 2017



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DeWitt Clinton and Amos Eaton

Geology and Power in Early New York


David I. Spanagel explores the origins of American geology and the culture that promoted it in nineteenth-century New York. Focusing on Amos Eaton, the educator and amateur scientist who founded the Rensselaer School, and DeWitt Clinton, the masterful politician who led the movement for the Erie Canal, Spanagel shows how a cluster of assumptions about the peculiar landscape and entrepreneurial spirit of New York came to define the Empire State. In so doing, he sheds light on a particularly innovative and fruitful period of interplay among science, politics, art, and literature in American history.

David I. Spanagel is an associate professor of history at Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

"A significant contribution to our current understanding of the history of science between the first scientific revolution of the early modern period and the emergence of modern, professionalized science... Provocative and compelling."

" DeWitt Clinton and Amos Eaton provides the reader with a fresh exploration of the early American republic... Here is a volume chock full of good ideas and evocative questions."

"A compelling story of the intersections between science and politics in the early decades of the nineteenth century."

"What a good and interesting read this is, and that what is most novel and most striking are the numerous connections that others have perhaps seen—one here and one there—but that Spanagel has woven into a rich network that makes deep cultural sense."

"DeWitt Clinton and Amos Eaton is an unfailingly interesting and informative book. It provides excellent insight into antebellum New York and neatly details how Clinton, Van Rensselaer, and Eaton had a profound impact on the intellectual and political life of New York.... This is a book that should be read by anyone interested in antebellum US history or the history of science. It will appeal to a variety of academics and should be very useful in graduate seminars."

"This is an exemplary study of the interconnections between the making of geological knowledge and the creation of a prosperous community of politicians, painters, writers, and men of science in New York State during the early national period. In pulling together many scientific and artistic threads, David Spanagel has woven a rich and colorful tapestry. This imaginative book will be an important contribution to a number of scholarly fields, including the history of geology, studies of American science, and the cultural and intellectual history of nineteenth-century America."

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