New York 24th District
One of the first American frontiers was the Mohawk River Valley of upstate New York. But from the establishment of Fort Orange in 1624 in what now is Albany until the Revolutionary War, white settlers did not dare move west along the Mohawk. The British used their Iroquois allies as a buffer against the French and in return kept New England Yankees from moving westward. Only after the French were driven from the colonies in 1759 did the pressures for westward settlement prevail. Once the Revolutionary War started, Iroquois dominion ended. Those events are the background of Drums Along the Mohawk and of James Fenimore Cooper’s Leatherstocking Tales. But there is little in these rolling hills today to evoke the bloody violence of the conflict or the later digging of the Erie Canal and the building of the New York Central Railroad. The canal was a staggering engineering feat. In 1811, it cost more to ship goods 30 miles inland from New York City than it cost to send them to England. But after eight years of work by 9,000 men, the canal opened in 1825, ahead of schedule and on budget, effectively tying together the nation and cementing the importance of New York City to America’s future. Then the New York Central built its water-line route, and the Mohawk Valley became one of the nation’s early industrial centers. The little Oneida County hamlets of Utica and Rome, where the canal builders had to dig through the route’s highest ground, became sizable factory towns. Even the utopian Oneida Community, with its believers in plural marriage and communal ownership, operated a stainless steel factory. First settled by New England Yankees, these towns attracted a new wave of immigration from the Atlantic coast in the early 20th century, including many Italian- and Polish-Americans.
2008 Presidential Vote
|Cook Partisan Voting Index|
The 24th Congressional District of New York sprawls through parts of 11 counties in central New York, few of them heavily populated. The biggest towns are Utica and Rome in Oneida County and Auburn in Cayuga County, which sits amid the Finger Lakes. Nearby Seneca Falls was the birthplace of the women’s movement in 1848, when Boston transplant Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott produced a Declaration of Sentiments that initiated the push for women’s suffrage. Abolition and temperance were also popular here. Today, this is a part of upstate New York that feels itself bypassed by more recent economic growth. Young people increasingly see their futures in larger cities like Albany or Syracuse, rather than in Utica. Oneida County’s population fell 7% between 1990 and 2007 as the county lost many industrial jobs. Seven of the district’s counties have experienced population declines since 2000. The booming business here is the Oneida Indians’ Turning Stone Resort Casino, the largest employer in the area. At the south end of Otsego Lake is Cooperstown, home of the Baseball Hall of Fame. In March 2009, the state announced plans to improve rail service in upstate New York as a way of potentially sparking more economic activity. The 24th District is historically Republican, but trended to Democrats in the 1990s. Republican George W. Bush carried it only narrowly in 2000 and by 53%-47% in 2004. In 2008, the district voted for Democrat Barack Obama 50%-48%.