Conclusion
Labor, the Manor, and the Market
WorkwasthecategorythroughwhichAlexanderCoventryapprehended
the society of the Hudson Valley—and his cousin William Coventry—
upon his arrival in 1785. He admired the beauty of the area but left no
doubtaboutthetoilrequiredtocultivatethesoil.Threegenerationslater,
asicklyWilliamHoffmanreturnedtohis‘‘nativeHome’’inClaverackafter
having spent two years as a sales clerk in New York City. The ‘‘gorgeous
scenery’’andthe‘‘lovelinessofnature’’touchedHoffman’s‘‘sensibilitiesof
feeling.’’ Whereas Coventry had recorded the efforts necessary to main-
tainfarms,Hoffmanindulgedinapastoraldescriptionofthecountryside.
‘‘What pen can delineate the contrast . . . with the bustle like & monoto-
nous everyday scenes constantlyexperienced by the citizen of NewYork
with all its mammon—its business—its would be luxuries—its pletho-
ric ‘markets’ affording the most exquisite delicacies for the Palate; with
Palaces&Paradisesforitspeople[that]cannotcompareinpointofluxury
with the ordinary Country location & Residence. The country—the Garden
& Paradise of Eden—man’s first existence.’’ A literary trope of simplicity
andpastoralismhadsubmergedHoffman’sownexperienceofworkonthe
farm. By the 1850s, indeed, mid–Hudson Valley farmers labored hard to
send dairy products, hay, and coarse grains to market while manufactur-
ers produced straw paper, textile and bricks to supply a national market.
Between Coventry’s journey upriver in 1785 and Hoffman’s in 1850, the
mid–HudsonValleyhaddevelopedfromalocal,indeedparochial,society
into an integral part of a wider world. It was precisely the confrontation
withnewrealitiesarisingfrompopulationgrowth,increasingproduction,
expandingcommercialrelations,andmoreintensivecommunicationthat
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