Westward Expansion — The Final Journey From Maine to California: An Illustrated Thesis

by James Schiele

Institution: Washington University in St. Louis
Year: 2015
Keywords: American Studies; United States History
Record ID: 2059119
Full text PDF: http://openscholarship.wustl.edu/art_sci_etds/383



This doctoral thesis shall examine how public policy changed with Westward Expansion during the late 19th century. Illustrations played a significant role in both educating readers to what was taking place out west, as well as bringing current events to the public eye in a timely fashion. Once newspapers received word of “Custer’s Massacre,” daily accounts were printed and pictures followed in Harper’s Weekly. Thus, public opinion rose to a peak following the battle, encouraging the federal government to move quickly to bring the Plains tribes under control and protect settlers moving west. Illustrations by Frederic Remington and others tended to show Indians in warfare mode. The impressions made by news accounts, fiction, and presentations such as the Buffalo Bill traveling troupe added to the public’s growing awareness of the West. The thesis contrasts the “hostiles” with George Catlin’s more researched books and pictures of tribes as a mature civilization in existence well before white Europeans arrived. Obstacles other than Indians, such as weather, barren landscapes, long distances, broken down wagons, and disease all made the movement hazardous. The sociological and civil rights impacts are the focal point of this study. The contrast between opposing points of view are brought out in visual form.