Additional details about images used in the online exhibits and throughout the Emerging America site are available on the Image Credits page. Links to the letters and other primary sources appear throughout the site, especially under “Story of the Steamboat Barnet.”. Or you may browse an annotated the list of all our primary sources grouped by type.
Through the rich set of primary and secondary resources on this site, visitors can follow the voyage of the Steamboat Barnet, the first steam-powered boat to pass the Enfield Rapids of the Connecticut River in 1826 and open up western New England to water-based transport of goods and people. Students and teachers will learn about this significant event in the Transportation Revolution through an examination of a variety of primary sources, including letters, published memoirs, speeches, drawings, paintings and newspaper advertisements. The Cast of Characters, an interactive timeline and interactive map will place these sources and events in the context of this dynamic time in U.S. History.
Henry Clay. Cincinnati, Ohio. August 3, 1830.
This speech was delivered by Clay at the mechanics collation in Cincinnati. In these excerpts, he lays out his arguments in support of the American System, which he claims will “diffuse the comforts of civilization throughout our society.” He also addresses some of the concerns raised by Southern opponents of the American System.
(ad). Hampshire Gazette. 1845.
This ad appeared in the Hampshire Gazette, promoting a steamboat route that connects goods brought in from Albany and Boston by railroad to Cheapside in Northern Franklin County.
From the collections of Historic Northampton.
Springfield Republican 1 May 1827.
This ad for groceries imported from near and far represents some of the goods brought into the area by river and road. From the collections of the Springfield History Library & Archives.
This map shows the scale of railroad development throughout New England and Eastern New York. The era of the steamboat on the Connecticut River was significant, but short-lived when the rapid development of railroad transportation supplanted river transport as the dominant method to transport goods and people on the Connecticut.
From the collections of the Library of Congress
This map represents the spread of the railroad system in the Northeast by the end of the nineteenth century. It shows the northern United States showing cities and towns and the railroad network with emphasis on the main line. This line was chartered in 1830 and opened in 1835. In 1841 a second track was laid.
From the collections of the Library of Congress
In the 1820s, Dr. Timothy Dwight, past president of Yale University, traveled through the area for his health. In his Travels in New-England and New York, Dr. Dwight describes in detail his trip through the South Hadley Canal and the machinery that made it possible.
Dwight, Timothy. Travels in New-England and New York. London: William Baynes and Son, 1823. Print. p. 286-288.
Having never visited the United States, French artist Victor de Grailly based this painting of the Connecticut River on an engraving by William Henry Bartlett. de Grailly created a number of paintings of this same view and sold them throughout Europe and the United States.
Painting. Thomas Cole. 1836. The Hudson River School landscape artist, Thomas Cole, painted this view of the Oxbow of the Connecticut River in Northampton, following his trip to the area in 1833. Cole later wrote of the Connecticut River, “…the imagination can scarcely conceive Arcadian vales more lovely or more peaceful than the valley of the Connecticut…” (“Essay on American Scenery”, American Monthly Magazine 1: January 1836).
From the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art
This 1831 political cartoon ridicules Henry Clay’s position on the American System. Monkeys, labeled as different parts of the nation’s economy, are depicted stealing each other’s resources. Two commentators are pictured at right, one speaking in support, the other against.
From Project Gutenberg (online). Download a printable PDF with explanation
Photographs from the Lyman & Merrie Wood Museum of Springfield History exhibit, Made in the Valley, are used to represent the wide variety of products that were made in the Connecticut River Valley. In many ways, the Transportation Revolution sparked by the voyage of the Steamboat Barnet made the development of these industries possible.
This drawing shows the complicated workings of the South Hadley canal system — the first of its kind built in the United States. It became the model for other canal systems, but when the canal needed to be deepened, it was replaced with a lock system.