A richly researched, evocative account of the individuals and institutions involved in the settling of the non-Indian West—and of the impact of the development of the West on the nation as a whole.
In the 19th century, the United States established control over the western half of the continent, boldly confronting Mexico, European powers, and powerful indian peoples. It was achieved through a combination of high-level politics, diplomacy, and military conflict—but also shaping the expansion were ordinary people from all walks of life, responding to the allure of the West as a place of extraordinary promise.
Making of the American West surveys the experiences of major social groups in the lands from the Mississippi to the Pacific, from the United States' penetration of the region in the early 19th century to its incorporation into national political, economic, and cultural fabric by the early 20th century.
This revealing volume offers fascinating portraits of the people and institutions that drove the Western conquest (traders and trappers, ranchers and settlers, corporations, the federal government), as well as of those who resisted conquest or hoped for the emergence of a different society (Indian peoples, Latinos, Asians, wage laborers). Throughout, expert contributors continually return to the growing myth of the West and the impact of its promise of freedom and opportunity on those who sought to “Americanize” it.
• A series of primary documents that give insight into direct experiences of groups featured and debates about Western issues at the time
• A rich variety of images and illustrations depicting the people and places covered in the book and capturing the various myths of the West circulated at the time
• Mixes familiar groups and topics with unexpected and under-studied ones, thus blending older approaches to Western history with more recent revisionist accounts
• Ties the West to the larger history of the United States, including its emergence as a unified industrial power in the early 20th century
• Explores as a key theme the creation of a mythical West and the interaction between those myths and the actual experiences of Westerners