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Reasonable UseThe People, the Environment, and the State, New England 1790-1930$
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John T. Cumbler

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780195138139

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780195138139.001.0001

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The Land, the River, and the People : The Connecticut Valley, 1790-1830

The Land, the River, and the People : The Connecticut Valley, 1790-1830

Chapter:
(p.11) 1 The Land, the River, and the People : The Connecticut Valley, 1790-1830
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Title Pages
Author(s):

John T. Cumbler

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780195138139.003.0005

On Wednesday morning September 21, 1795, only a year after he was appointed president of Yale College, forty-four-year-old Timothy Dwight began the first of his thirteen excursions through New England and upstate New York. On six of his thirteen trips, he traveled through the Connecticut Valley, a valley he was familiar with since childhood and was linked to by both family and sentiment. The Connecticut River Valley was changing, as Dwight made his several trips through it. It was transformed under the impact of human activity. Increasingly, mill dams and factory villages were being built along the river and its tributaries. Technology, science, and the market were restructuring the way people were interacting with their environment. The land became less wild. That “civilizing” of nature, as Dwight called it, began first on the alluvial soils of the lower and central valley in the eighteenth century and then spread north and up into the hill country in the early years of the nineteenth century. By the end of the fifth decade of the nineteenth century, this new world had pretty much taken shape, and valley residents began to take stock of the changes that had occurred. Dwight began this process of accounting at the beginning stages of that transformation. And it was in the Connecticut River Valley that the changes made the biggest impact on him. At the center of the Connecticut Valley runs New England’s largest waterway. The Connecticut River flows south some four hundred miles from a series of small lakes in the swampy district of northern New Hampshire on the Canadian border. It eventually spills into Long Island Sound at Saybrook, Connecticut. To the west and east of the river are mountain ranges, the Housatonic and Green Mountains to the west and the White Mountains to the east. In northern New Hampshire and Vermont, the river travels through a narrow and rough mountain valley. As the river moves south into central Vermont and New Hampshire, the valley widens, particularly on the river’s western shore, and is intersected with tributary rivers and valleys.

Keywords:   alewives, bass, canals, dairy farming, eels, factories, gristmills, hemp, livestock, passenger pigeons

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