A LAND BEYOND THE RIVER, a novel by Jack Casey, tells of the story of how the Erie Canal was built across the wilderness of New York State.
The year is 1810. The infant American nation clings to its Atlantic seaboard, blocked by westward expansion by a mountain range. For decades men have dreamt of digging a canal west from the Hudson, 350 miles across New York, to unlock the untold riches of the west. Yet these visionaries lacked the necessary skill and willpower and political might.
Enter: DeWitt Clinton, mayor of New York City. Ignoring the naysayers and cynics, Clinton seizes upon the Erie Canal as the crowning triumph in a life of dedicated service to the people of New York State, and as a pathway to the governor’s office, and even the presidency.
At a lavish ball, Clinton’s confidante, Eleanora Livingston Van Rensselaer, a young widow of the landed gentry, encounters Daniel Hedges, a merchant and ship captain from Lake Erie. Hedges’ confidence and bearing challenge her eastern notions of social class and worth, and immediately she sees that his frontier ingenuity can climb all ridges and ford all streams. She enlists Hedges to survey and design the canal, yet soon the hawkish faction of Clinton’s party plunges America into the War of 1812.
From the stunning naval victory on Lake Erie to the British invasion of Washington, D.C., Daniel and Eleanora persevere through deep personal crises until they can join again in the colossal work that will open the continent to growth, and allow them to discover—in their steadfast commitment of Clinton’s ideal – a new kind of love between a man and a woman.
A LAND BEYOND THE RIVER was first published as a mass market paperback by Bantam Books in 1988. A hardcover version was issued by Diamond Rock Publishing Co. in 2005. In 2011, this title was made available on Kindle. (Purchase any of these editions via Amazon.