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| Curtis Hinsley, on: The Appeal of the River
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Curtis Hinsley, on: The Appeal of the River
Curtis Hinsley Q: This love of rivers starts very early with him and, I would imagine that there must be a special place, the river must have a special place in the public consciousness in a young country. Can you talk about that a little bit. What was that great appeal for the river?

CH: Well, of course we've seen a lot recently on the Lewis and Clark Expedition. And, the river of course, it's the center of that entire expedition. The river's where, at the very heart of the, or at the very center of American consciousness of the 19th century. Why - because they were the fastest way to get goods from one place to another. The canal system of the 1820s, '30s, '40s, which is short lived, but very important in the consciousness of this generation of Americans, of course, depends upon the major rivers. It runs along the major rivers. Many of these people grew up in towns of the Midwest that were dependent upon the canal system and the river system. We don't have to look very far in the literature of the time, -- Mark Twain, Huckleberry Finn, and so forth -- to know that the rivers also divided the country, politically. The Ohio and the Mississippi River were the division between north and south, between slavery and non-slavery, between various forms of freedom and unfreedom, in this country. The rivers were the route to freedom toward manhood, for young men. They were the way, fastest way to go away from home, also you can see that in Huck Finn. Rivers are central, as I say, to the consciousness of Americans in this time period, not to say that there aren't land routes, as well, the comings of the wagons, the Santa Fe Trail, the Oregon Trail and so forth and so on. Land routes are very important. The settlement on the land is very important, but frequently, the settlement takes place along the rivers, because the rivers provide markets and they provide the resources for survival. So, the river is, and it's also the mystery and rivers are also very mysterious, for the river sticks onward.

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