The Men Who United the States: America's Explorers, Inventors, Eccentrics and Mavericks, and the Creation of One Nation, Indivisible
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Simon Winchester, the acclaimed New York Times bestselling author of Atlantic and The Professor and the Madman, delivers his first book about America: a fascinating popular history that illuminates the men who toiled fearlessly to discover, connect, and bond the citizenry and geography of the U.S.A. from its beginnings.
How did America become “one nation, indivisible”? What unified a growing number of disparate states into the modern country we recognize today? To answer these questions, Winchester follows in the footsteps of America’s most essential explorers, thinkers, and innovators, such as Lewis and Clark and the leaders of the Great Surveys; the builders of the first transcontinental telegraph and the powerful civil engineer behind the Interstate Highway System. He treks vast swaths of territory, from Pittsburgh to Portland, Rochester to San Francisco, Seattle to Anchorage, introducing the fascinating people who played a pivotal role in creating today’s United States.
Throughout, he ponders whether the historic work of uniting the States has succeeded, and to what degree. Featuring 32 illustrations throughout the text, The Men Who United the States is a fresh look at the way in which the most powerful nation on earth came together.
100 Yangtze comparison to Mississippi River, 230 Citizen Kane (movie, 1941), 377 City upon a Hill sermon (Winthrop, 1630), 30 Civil War American unity tested by, xvi–xviii disruption of western exploration, 103–4, 106, 108, 129 impact on railroad expansion, 255, 257–58 Irish immigration for service in, 271 secession and beginning of, 348–49 Clark, William (explorer), 21–23, 32–33, 39. See also Lewis and Clark expedition Clay, Henry (presidential candidate), 345 Clemens, Samuel. See
was a testament also to the enduring role of New Harmony in the making of early America. By the time Owen died, in 1860, at least twenty-eight states had organized well-established geological surveys. Scores of maps were being published from all sides. Moreover, geologists who had arrived by sea on the West Coast had looked carefully at California and Oregon and had declared that it was likely that great mineral wealth existed there, and that discoveries of great value, such as the one made at
1820, and there found substantial deposits of copper, lead, and gypsum. In 1823 a geologist named William Keating found copper in West Virginia. In 1824 the heroic explorer, trapper, and mapmaker Jedediah Smith rediscovered the low and easy South Pass* through the Rockies, and Benjamin Bonneville, who took a wagon train through it eight years later, wrote of his discovering the famous salt flats in Utah in 1832. Two years later still, the first-ever official United States geologist, George
quarter of a billion dollars. Ralston then brought onto his own board the great and the good and the not so good, including a lawyer who had run unsuccessfully against Lincoln, a member of the US Senate, and the magnificently named adventurer Asbury Harpending, who later wrote a book about the affair, most of it more wildly exaggerated than was necessary. The banker also sent two of his lawyers armed with sample stones across to New York, to the Manhattan offices of Charles Tiffany, the
breaching this low hill, and both are now all but forgotten for having done so. One is William Gooding, a self-taught engineer who cut his teeth on the Erie Canal, helping dig a bypass around Niagara Falls. The other, more nobly born (his family was loosely connected to the Jeffersons) was Isham Randolph—a Virginia forester who was first employed as an axman felling trees for a small country railroad. Their twin achievements, made serially, half a century apart, are little memorialized; the place