DeWitt Clinton (1769-1828) was an early American politician who transformed the country in far-reaching ways — physically, economically and financially. He was the driving force in building the Erie Canal, a massive engineering achievement that helped make Wall Street into a major financial center and the United States into an economically dynamic nation where investors would want to put their money.
Clinton served at various times as governor of New York state, mayor of New York City, U.S. senator and member of the Erie Canal commission. He ran for president in 1812, losing a fairly close contest to James Madison. He was an intellectual with interests ranging from rattlesnake biology to the history of Native Americans. He also was imperious and abrasive. A couple of years before the infamous Hamilton-Burr duel, Clinton went up against Burr supporter John Swartwout and irritably shot him in the leg.
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