Saturday, July 25, 2015

the last book I ever read (Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow, excerpt eleven)

from Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow:

Early on, Hamilton and Coxe settled on New Jersey as the optimal place for this venture. The state was densely populated, possessed cheap land and abundant forests, and enjoyed easy access to New York money. Most critically, it was well watered by rivers that could spin turbine blades and waterwheels. That August, Hamilton dispatched scouts to investigate these waterways. He and other society members were swamped with appeals from local landlords, touting the wonders of their riverside properties. It was later on concluded, largely at Duer’s insistence, that the Great Falls of the Passaic in northern New Jersey offered “one of the finest situations in the world.”

Hamilton knew the secluded spot well. One day during the Revolution, he, Washington, and Lafayette had picnicked by the falls, enjoying a “modest repast” of cold ham, tongue, and biscuits in a sylvan setting that momentarily banished thoughts of war. The Great Falls mark a scenic bend in the Passaic River, the foaming water—up to two billion gallons per day—plunging seventy feet into a deep, narrow gorge of brownish-black basalt, blowing a rainbow-forming spray into the air. The society decided to call the new town Paterson to flatter Governor William Paterson. On November 22, 1791, the governor returned the favor, granting the society a charter (likely written by Hamilton) that gave it monopoly status and a ten-year tax exemption. The society bought seven hundred acres and carved it up into parcels, not just for factories but for a brand-new town—one that became the third largest city in New Jersey.

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