Clinton, Leahy, Sanders, Schumer Hail Passage of Key Legislation to Establish Hudson-Fulton-Champlain Commemoration Commission

Commission Will Coordinate Efforts To Commemorate Landmark Voyages of Henry Hudson, Samuel de Champlain, and Robert Fulton

WASHINGTON (Monday, April 14) -- Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and Charles Schumer (D-NY) hailed the passage of their legislation to establish the Champlain Quadricentennial Commemoration Commission and the Hudson-Fulton 400th Commemoration Commission. The Hudson-Fulton-Champlain Quadricentennial Commemoration Commission Act, which now has passed the Senate as part of the Consolidated Natural Resources Act of 2008, will help coordinate educational, cultural and historical projects while cooperating and assisting the programs and activities conceived by New York and Vermont. The Commission will also be responsible for facilitating nation-wide and international celebration efforts. The House soon is expected to take its final action on the legislation.

"Trailblazers and explorers have always been a unique part of the American experience, and have played key roles in the founding and expansion of our great country. Next year will mark the 400th anniversary of the groundbreaking voyages of Hudson and Champlain and 200th anniversary of Fulton's travels," said Senator Clinton. "I am extremely proud that my colleagues have passed this legislation, which I introduced, to celebrate these pioneers and their historic achievements. New York has a proud legacy of leadership in innovation, exploration, and ingenuity, and this Commission will serve to help educate generations of Americans about the historical and cultural impact of Hudson, Champlain, and Fulton on our country's legacy and national identity."

"For centuries Lake Champlain has helped unite and sustain the communities and the people of the expansive Champlain Valley," said Leahy, who noted that Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT) is a sponsor of counterpart legislation in the House. "Lake Champlain is a defining feature of our landscape and our culture, and it is one of the nation's historic and environmental treasures. The quadricentennial is a milestone worthy of cataloguing and celebrating this rich history."

"Lake Champlain has played a huge part in Vermont history," Sanders said. "The 400th anniversary gives us the chance to celebrate the past and renew our commitment to protect the lake for future generations," Sanders said.

"This commission will ensure that generations of New Yorkers to come will remember the landmark journeys of Henry Hudson, Samuel de Champlain and Robert Fulton—pioneers who paved the way for New York's rich tradition of maritime innovation and discovery," said Schumer. "It will also go a long way toward promoting and supporting tourism across the state as we prepare to celebrate these historic anniversaries next year."

2009 will mark the 400th anniversary of the voyage of Henry Hudson, the first European to sail up the Hudson River; the 400th anniversary of the voyage of Samuel de Champlain, the first European to explore Lake Champlain; and the 200th anniversary of the voyage of Robert Fulton, the first person to use steam navigation on a commercial basis.

The Hudson and Fulton explorations led to the establishment of trading posts, military posts, and settlements as far south as Lake George. From these early establishments came trade, commerce, cultural, and religious impact deep into the Mohawk Valley and as far west as Lake Erie. These settlements influenced our Nation's history, culture, law, commerce, and traditions of liberty that extend to the present day.

Almost 200 years later, in 1807, Robert Fulton navigated the Hudson River from the city of New York to Albany in the steamboat Clermont, successfully inaugurating steam navigation on a commercial basis. This event helped revolutionize waterborne commerce on the great rivers of the United States and fostered international relations through transoceanic travel and trade.