Sloops of the Hudson River

The Sloops of the Hudson River is a fascinating work about these sailing craft that once plied the waters from New York City to Albany and beyond. The book is written by Paul E. Fontenoy and published by the Mystic Seaport Museum.

Those of you not interested in sailing vessels may want to pass. However, if you have a passing interest in how New York and its environs developed, you are well advised to consider this book. In the first place, Mr. Fontenoy tackles the details with a bit of flair, adding in personal contemporary accounts to bring life to a subject that would otherwise be too many facts and figures. Similarly, he has fold-out designs of various sloops which give the reader an opportunity to see their design from every angle. He goes all the way to produce financial records from various businesses to demonstrate the rise and fall of the traffic these vessels conducted.

After a bit of pondering, I propose that the development of trade, and in particular the efforts these owners and sailors invested into their operations, are demonstrable evidence to the evolution of the American Character. Here are people making their living on their own, without supreme guidance or central planning. They profited or failed much of their own accord, learning lessons from both experiences along the way. When their achievements of a more basic age are compared against those of today’s sophistication, I dare say modern progress seems a bit lacking.

If nothing else, those sailing types among my readers will enjoy the book for its technical excellence and readability. Enjoy it.

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Published in: on November 7, 2009 at 12:37 pm  Leave a Comment  
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