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The Art of Mort Künstler / The American Spirit / A New Nation

Here you will find a pictorial chronicle of the drama and excitement of American History. These paintings give the viewer an insight into the tumultuous life of this young nation that mere words cannot achieve.

Dewitt Clinton Opens the Erie Canal
October 26, 1825

Historical Information

After more than eight years of construction, New York Governor DeWitt Clinton opened the Erie Canal – connecting the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean, via the Hudson River. Clinton boarded the Seneca Chief in Buffalo and arrived in New York City nine days later and emptied a barrel of Lake Erie water into the Atlantic Ocean. This engineering feat drastically reduced transportation time and cost, rapidly boosting the economy of New York State.

Mort Künstler's Comments

There are virtually no contemporary pictorial accounts of this event upon which I could base my painting. We do know, however, that the boat was the Seneca Chief and that Governor Clinton's keg, now in the collection of the New-York Historical Society, contained water from Lake Erie. These clues, plus portraits of Clinton, were the basis for my recreation of this scene.


All illustrations by Mort Künstler. Text by Michael Aubrecht, Dee Brown, Henry Steele Commager, Rod Gragg, Mort Künstler, Edward Lengel, James McPherson, and James I. Robertson, Jr. - Copyright © 2001-2022. All Rights Reserved. No part of the contents of this web site may be reproduced or utilized in any form by any means without written consent of the artist.