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The Birth of Empire


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Table of Contents

Introduction: Gentlemen of New York 1: Political Apprentice 2: Political Journeyman 3: Clintonians and Burrites 4: Mayor Clinton 5: Clintonian Culture 6: Clintonians and Quids 7: New York and the Nation 8: Launching the Canal 9: Clintonian Intellect 10: The Governor 11: Resurrection 12: The Canal and Its Consequences 13: End of a Career

About the Author

Evan Cornog was educated at Harvard and Columbia, and has taught American history at Columbia, LaGuardia Community College (CUNY), and Lafayette College. He also worked as Press Secretary for former Mayor Edward I. Koch of New York City. Currently, he is Associate Dean of the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University.


"...Cornog offers unforgettable stories for general readers and a wealth of information and insight about New York politics and history."--Gazette, Schenectady, NY "...Evan Cornog's biography of DeWitt Clinton is...welcome, filling a noticeable gap in the literature while portraying the individual who transformed New York into the Empire State....Cornog is to be congratulated for writing the definitive study of DeWitt Clinton. It should stand the test of time."--Journal of the Early Republic "[Cornog] creates a forceful and colorful portrait of his vital and powerful subject....Rather like our Bill Clinton, his DeWitt Clinton recurrently finds in defeat the seeds of his next triumph, but he also invariably squanders victory by indulging in uncompromising fantasies of control and revenge. This biographical approach makes for a lucid and largely true story that lingers on the personal and contingent."--Alan Taylor, The New Republic "In Cornog's telling, the life and times of DeWitt Clinton make a fascinating guide to the complex interaction of personality, popularity, and policy in our infant republic."--The New Yorker "Evan Cornog served brilliantly as press secretary in my administration. Now as a writer and biographer, he is brilliant once again in telling the story of one of the great politicians of the state and city of New York. Cornog's wonderful Birth of Empire not only gives the history of DeWitt Clinton, for twelve years the City's mayor and twice the State's governor, but also paints a marvelous picture of early 19th-century Manhattan. Active sponsor of the Erie Canal, founder of the New-York Historical Society, and devoted supporter of the cultural and industrial growth of city and state, DeWitt Clinton comes alive in this story of the origins of the greatest city in the world."--Edward I. Koch, Mayor of New York City, 1978 to 1989 "Concurrent with the restoration of the Erie Canal, author Evan Cornog gives us a fascinating caravansary of the creation of the canal by its major proponent, Governor DeWitt Clinton. This great work, engineered and excavated by immigrants, opened the State of New York and the West to a host of immigration that transformed this state from an aristocracy to the democracy we now know as the Empire State. Cornog also gives us a vivid and insightful depiction of the Governor who was both a creator and a casualty of that transformation. The portraits of Clinton and his contemporaries; of their colloquies, comments, and anecdotes in the ebb tide of regency; and of the rise of the new republic make this book an invaluable companion on any trip up the Erie. What better escort could we have than Cornog's Governor Clinton--who was courageous and clumsy in politics, and charming and cantankerous, like so many other governors I can recall."--Hugh L. Carey, Governor of New York State, 1975 to 1983 "As mayor, governor, and senator, and as father of the Erie Canal and a dozen other major institutions and initiatives, DeWitt Clinton is arguably the most important person ever to lead the Empire City and the Empire State. His is a grand story, and in Evan Cornog he has found a grand biographer."--Kenneth T. Jackson, Columbia University "No political leader loomed larger in New York during the first quarter of the 19th century than DeWitt Clinton, and none had a more ambitious vision of the metropolitan cultural and economic possibilities of the city, nor did any do more to realize them. The story of this 18th-century man who did so much to make 19th-century New York has been deeply researched and engagingly told by Evan Cornog."--Thomas Bender, Professor of History, New York University

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