Stevenson Library Digital Collections

In Conclusion

As the 19th century progressed, appreciation for nature and scenery peaked. Even as the Hudson Valley was becoming more industrialized (or perhaps because of this) many Americans were prioritizing the natural landscape. In Thomas Cole’s essay on American scenery, he writes, “The spirit of our society is to contrive but not to enjoy -- toiling to produce more toil -- accumulating in order to aggrandize. The pleasures of the imagination, among which the love of scenery holds a conspicuous place, will alone temper the harshness of such a state; and, like the atmosphere that softens the most rugged forms of the landscape, cast a veil of tender beauty over the asperities of life.” Many of the educated, wealthy landowners of the Hudson Valley, such as the Donaldsons and Livingstons, embodied the appreciation for scenery Cole championed. This is likely because of their exposure to Romantic art, writing, and because their privilege and wealth afforded them the opportunities to focus on leisure. As they changed their estates and land to reflect Romantic notions of landscape, scenery, and beauty, the cultural landscape of the Hudson Valley itself changed.