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Erie Canal commemorative plate

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Erie Canal commemorative plate
Smithsonian Institution, Photo by Richard Strauss, Negative #: 2003-19230

IN CONTEXT

This object appears in the following sections:


Other Topics
Words on Things — Some thoughts about words on things

Transportation in America before 1876:
Transportation in America before 1876 — Connecting the Growing Nation


Erie Canal commemorative plate honoring Governor De Witt
Catalog #: 62.998 B, Accession #: 171126
Currently on display
From the Smithsonian Collection
This commemorative plate is part of a set of four plates manufactured in England honoring Governor Clinton. Clinton, who was not Governor of New York when the first ground was turned to begin work on the Erie Canal, was one of its biggest supporters. He believed that the canal would be “a work more stupendous, more magnificent, and more beneficial than has hitherto been achieved by the human race.”
Physical Description

Dimensions: 10 1/4 inches diameter, 1.5 inches depth

Inscriptions: "THE GRAND ERIE CANAL, A SPLENDID MONUMENT OF THE ENTERPRISE & RESOURCES OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, INDEBTED FOR ITS EARLY COMMENCE-MENT & RAPID COMPLETION TO THE ACTIVE ENERGIES & ENLIGHTENED POLICY OF DE WITT CLINTON, GOVERNOR OF THE STATE."

Materials: white glazed earthenware

Blue transfer decorated plate featuring a border with four medallions depicting Erie Canal scenes

Details
Date Made:
about 1825
Locations:
Pennsylvania
Note:
Erie, Pennsylvania
Credit:
Gift of Ellouise Baker Larsen
History

When workers began digging the Erie, the longest existing canal in the U.S. measured 28 miles long. In contrast, the Erie Canal was planned to extend over 300 miles, connecting the Hudson River with Lake Erie, the East Coast with the frontier. The canal was funded by the state of New York. Even before it officially opened in 1825, the canal began to generate income. The Erie Canal gave 19th-century New York an edge over other commercial port cities on the Atlantic coast. The Erie canal’s success encouraged canal building elsewhere, and by 1840, the United States had 3,326 miles of canals.

When the Erie Canal reached Lake Erie in 1825, a relay of cannons boomed out the news along the canal’s length east towards New York City. The Seneca Chief traveled the length of the canal, and when it arrived days later, New Yorkers marked the historic ‘wedding of the waters,’ by pouring kegged water from Lake Erie into the Atlantic ocean.
Related People, Places, and Events
Donor
Ellouise Baker Larsen

Place of Manufacture
England

Place Pictured
Erie Canal


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