A forbidden love.
An impossible dream.
And a daring venture to open America…
The year is 1810. For decades men have dreamed of reaching west of the Hudson – of unlocking the untold riches in America’s heartland. Yet, these visionaries lacked the necessary skill, willpower, and political might.
Enter: DeWitt Clinton, mayor of New York City.
Ignoring naysayers and cynics, Clinton vows to construct an audacious waterway through the wilderness to Lake Erie. For this he needs support from the highest echelons of New York society. And there is only one woman with the talent and connections for the job.
Eleanora Van Rensselaer, an aristocratic widow, rules a vast Hudson Valley estate, but her wealth and power will vanish if a dark secret is revealed. Clinton enlists her charm and intelligence to battle his formidable opponent Martin Van Buren. When Eleanora encounters Daniel Hedges, a dashing ship captain with frontier ingenuity, she knows he is the key to this massive project. Eleanora’s social savvy and Hedges’ skills make them an ideal team – if they can fight the powerful feelings growing between them.
But as America plunges into the war of 1812, they could lose all that they have built.
From America’s stunning naval victory on Lake Erie to the British invasion of Washington, D.C., Daniel and Eleanora persevere through tragedy and deep personal loss. Despite Van Buren’s plot to sabotage Clinton and expose Eleanora’s secret, Daniel and Eleanora won’t stop until they make their colossal dream a reality.
And somewhere along the way, they might just find a love that will change them, and America, forever.
EXCERPT FROM THE BOOK!
Progress upstream was slow. A sail did not help as the boats had little ballast and no keel. Their undersides were smooth and shallow so they might be dragged over portages. Clinton stood in his leather slouch hat hour after hour for three days, smoking cigars and gazing moodily into the wind. The others seemed festive, but Clinton was restless. This was no Sunday outing. At each bend or shoal or creek that spilled into the river, he checked Wright’s map for its accuracy. He questioned the boatmen incessantly about the river’s depth and currents, what goods were shipped each way, the prices and quantities, the length of the shipping season and the number of boats in active trade.
Clinton yearned to emulate the great leaders who had opened new trade routes – Henry the Navigator of Portugal, Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain, Peter the Great of Russia – and wealth poured into their treasuries. The estates of the eastern landed gentry now slumbered in pastoral bliss along the Hudson, but Clinton, a devotee of Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations and the principles of Freemasonry, saw that trade was the new path to both personal and public wealth. The canal he envisioned would allow New York State to open an inland route to connect the virgin territories of the Great Lakes with New York harbor, diverting streams of goods from the Mississippi and the St. Lawrence down the Hudson, and making New York arise as the financial center of America.
In five days, they ascended the Mohawk to its source at Rome, and their boats passed into a channel constructed by a private canal company. The wooden locks that lifted boats over the hill and into Wood Creek were rotting. Bridges were so low that their awnings and flagpoles had to be removed. The locks were so slow and cumbersome, many boaters simply affixed dolly wheels to their bateaux, contraptions that carried the boats in the dry season down to where Wood Creek was navigable, and bypassed the canal altogether. As the boatmen poled the boats into the first lock, Clinton jumped ashore to survey the western slope and Wood Creek. He scanned the terrain with the eye of a general. The Mohawk, downstream broad and placid, had recently become swift and narrow near its source. On the other side of the hill, Wood Creek meandered westward through the willows into salt marshes, swamps and shallow lakes – a foreboding land.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
JACK CASEY is an attorney who has handled civil, criminal and constitutional matters for thirty years in his solo practice. In HAMILTON’S CHOICE, Casey dramatizes the last three years of Alexander Hamilton’s life, and plausibly explains why he went to his first and fatal duel. Casey’s newest release, INTO THE HEARTLAND, is a sweeping saga of adversity and triumph around the building of the Erie Canal (1810–1825). His other published historical novels are LILY OF THE MOHAWKS and THE TRIAL OF BAT SHEA.
Casey graduated with honors from Yale University and Albany Law School, and has studied literature at Edinburgh and Cambridge Universities. He lives in Troy, NY and Raleigh, NC with his wife and editor, Victoria.