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The Romance of the West

The Romance of the West

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The Romance of the West

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  1. The Conquest of the Far West The Romance of the West

  2. “Rocky Mountain School” • Painters who depicted the landscapes of the West • Some of these paintings were taken to eastern and Midwestern states, where huge crowds turned out to see them • These paintings depicted a rugged, idealized West, and captured the imaginations of people back east • Tourism • Inspired by these paintings, many people wanted to see the West for themselves • Tourism was made possible by extended rail lines and a decrease in Indian wars • Resorts sprang up around the more spectacular landscapes

  3. The Cowboy Myth • The low-paid, hard-working cowboy was elevated to a mythical status be people in the East • Romanticized freedom from traditional social constraints, kinship with nature, and his inclination for violence • People often ignored the boredom, loneliness, discomforts, low pay, and instability of the cowboy life • Cowboys were portrayed a symbols of decency, courage, and compassion, the supposed virtues of the frontier • Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show helped to spread this myth

  4. Romantic Image of the West • The idea of the frontier has always served as a symbol for the freedom to start over in America • As the remaining frontier dwindled, America’s began to romanticize it even more • Many Americans saw the West as the last refuge from the restrictions of civilization, an idea celebrated in the novels of Mark Twain and many other authors

  5. The Idea of the Frontier • Frederic Remington, one of the most successful artists of the 19th century, celebrated the natural world of the cowboy, free of civilization • Theodore Roosevelt often traveled West to escape his troubles, seeing it as a place of physical regeneration through rugged activity • Roosevelt published The Winning of the West, helping to cement the frontier in American popular culture

  6. Frederick Jackson Turner • “The Significance of the Frontier in American History” • The end of the frontier marked the end of a significant era in American history • He called the West a democratizing force in American life • Other historians would argue that the West was never a frontier, it was already occupied by several civilizations • Jackson did reflect the sentiments of most Americans as the best farming and grazing land was quickly taken

  7. “Passing of the Frontier” • The frontier is one of the most cherished myths in American culture • The empty, open land of the West represented boundless opportunity • As the West closed, many Americans felt their own destinies closing • Henry Nash Smith referred to it as the “myth of the garden” • A person could start a new life • The ideals of democracy could be restored