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Week Two: A New Nation Moves West

Page history last edited by mwitgen@... 9 years, 10 months ago



September 9: The Iconography and Ideology of American Expansion













Study Questions 


1. John Filson’s narrative is often seen as the first popular Western adventure. Does it seem like a typical "western" to you? In what ways does it seem different from later narratives of the West?  What is the significance behind Filson's description of the physical environment?  How does masculinity figure into Filson's narrative? How does this history of Kentucky relate to last weeks readings?  What do you make of the opening paragraph where the writer claims the first "white man" to discovered the "province" of Kentucky in 1754, or his claim that after this discovery the region remained "concealed until 1767?


2. Daniel Bryan’s “The Mountain Muse” is an unusual interpretation of Daniel Boone's story. In what kind of framework is he trying to cast Boone's history? How is this similar or different from John Filson's narrative? In your answer try to site specific passages in the text.


3. For writers like Filson and Bryan what role did American Indians play in the development of America?


4. Compare and contrast the Jefferson and Filson maps. What kind of political work do these maps do? How do they create meaning about the West?


5. Has the depiction of Daniel Boone or the process of settling and claiming the West changed since the 18th and 19th centuries? How does the 1960s Mell-O-Toons "Daniel Boone" depict Boone and his activities in the West?



September 11: Encountering the American Indian Past and Planning for an American Future 




  • Noah Webster, Letter to Ezra Stiles ILetter to Ezra Stiles II in the American Museum (1787)
  • John Williams, Farther Observations on the Discovery of America by Prince Madog ab Owen Gwynned (1792)
  • Winthrop Sargent, A Letter from Winthrop Sargent in the Transactions of the American Philosophical Society (1799)
  • Images: Map and Lithograph of the “ancient works” near Marietta, Ohio, from "Ancient Monuments of the Mississippi Valley (1848)
  • The letter by Captain Heart, mentioned in the first letter to Ezra Stiles, can be found here. [optional]
  • Henry Clay, The American System, February 2, 3, and 6 (in the Senate), ctools/Coursepack) read from page 83 to 95 to the subsection titled "false arguments refuted."  Read 115-116 "Friends of the American System." You may want to search online for information about the American System and the Tariffs of 1816, 1824, and 1828.





   Source: Library of Congress, American Memory                       



Study Questions


1. Try to look up some information about the authors of these letters – who were they? And what was the American Philosophical Society?


2. What questions does Noah Webster try to answer in his letter to Ezra Stiles? What kinds of evidence does he cite, and what conclusions does he come to?


3. What do these sources tell you about how white American intellectuals tried to make sense of the American Indian past? What kind of philosophical problem did they run into trying to explain these archeological findings? What are the differences in how Noah Webster and Winthrop Sargent try to tackle this issue?


4. What was the goal of the American System, and specifically the tariffs that were a key part of this policy? 


5. What is the argument for the tariff system and what is the argument against it?  How would this system effect the Jeffersonian idea of promoting a nation of Yeoman farmers? Who are the advocates for this system and who are the opponents, what interest and or regions of the country did they represent?


6. How would the Tariff effect the relationship between the U.S. and Great Britain and how is it related to ideas about colonization and the functioning of a republic?


7. How is the story of the west and of American expansion presented in the materials for this class as opposed to the readings for Tuesday's class?  What is the role of the individual and the role of government in the republic and how are these ideas expressed differently or similarly in Tuesday and Thursdays readings


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