A Companion to the American West by William Deverell

By William Deverell

A significant other to the yank West is a rigorous, illuminating creation to the historical past of the yankee West. Twenty-five essays through professional students synthesize the easiest and such a lot provocative paintings within the box and supply a accomplished evaluate of issues and historiography.

  • Covers the tradition, politics, and surroundings of the yankee West via sessions of migration, payment, and modernization
  • Discusses local americans and their conflicts and integration with American settlers

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What has compelled Americans to make those Jacksonian men into wild children who have run away from home? Why this cultural urge to admire them for what they supposedly rejected (but did not), to use the Jeremiah Johnsons of that time to question an economic expansion we otherwise celebrate? The call, that is, is to bring intellectual history, broadly defined, to bear on western economic life. Half a century ago Henry Nash Smith virtually single-handedly birthed the field of American Studies with Virgin Land: The American West as Myth and Symbol.

Following the War of 1812, Spain also pulled back, ceding Florida to the American republic. By 1820, the borders of the first West had been secured, as had the hold of the United States over the region. In retrospect, what is most striking about the making of the first American West is how long it took, particularly when compared with the more compressed chronologies of subsequent westward expansions. Through the first half of the eighteenth century, Indians and imperial rivals generally checked the inland movement of British American colonists.

But if expansion took a rest, diplomacy in its broadest meanings simply shifted its emphasis, now toward the inward tasks of exploration and self-definition. The great surveys, for instance, can be seen as one stage of a national government and society negotiating their relationship with the newly acquired western lands and their inhabitants. Exploration is not simply an objective description of something fully established and unchanging. Rather, explorers who observed the West were simultaneously changing and even creating it.

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