In 1812 Clinton ran for President of the United States, but was defeated by James Madison. Clinton was able to accomplish many things as a leader in civic and state affairs such as: New York public school system, encouraging steam navigation, modifying the laws governing criminals and debtors. While governor he was largely responsible for the creation of the Erie Canal. In 1817 DeWitt Clinton became the governor of New York until 1823. He imagined a Canal from Buffalo, New York on the Eastern Shore of Lake Erie to Albany, New York on the upper Hudson River, a distance of almost 400 miles. So, in 1817 he persuaded the state lawmakers to provide 7 million dollars for the construction of a Canal 363 miles long and 40 feet wide, and four feet deep. In 1825, when the Canal was finished, Governor DeWitt Clinton opened the Erie Canal, sailing in the packet boat Seneca Chief along the Canal into Buffalo. After sailing from the mouth of Lake Erie to New York City, he emptied two casks of water from Lake Erie into the Atlantic Ocean, celebrating the first connection of waters from East to West in the ceremonial "Marriage of the Waters".