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Westward Expansion / Manifest Destiny – Political Cartoon Research

Updated April 19, 2022
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Westward Expansion / Manifest Destiny – Political Cartoon Research essay

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American Progress, chromolithograph print, c. 1873 American Progress, chromolithograph print, c. 1873, after an 1872 painting of the same title by John Gast. Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. (digital id: ppmsca 09855)

Manifest Destiny is simple defined as the United States’ need for territorial expansion to the westward Pacific. The picture that is being analyzed represents Columbia and movement during the early 19th century for the western expansionism.

The Golden Rush in California was one of the major reasons of Western Migration. The Western Migration was defined as a great number of people Chinese and Mexican Americans that immigrated to California in search for gold and prosperity, during that time period is when the idea of “Manifest destiny” first appeared. Manifest destiny was the idea that was spread across the United States during the 18th century and early 19th century than it was God’s plan for the United States to expand west to the Pacific. This phase was coined by John O’Sullivan in 1845, “The fulfillment of our manifest destiny to overspread the continent allotted by Providence for free development of our yearly multiplying millions.”. This quotes by John O’Sullivan states and represents, the belief that it was American’s destiny created by God to expand its boundaries and create a new era of prosperity. This belief was spread across the United States and people from different nationalities and different parts of American found themselves moving to the west. Native Americans already lived in the Western area of the US and this movement would result to major changes in the future which would create new effects on people and politics during the 19th century.

[image: ]The goal of the political cartoon is to present to western expansion of 1803 to 1861. In the political cartoon the woman in the middle of the picture that is presented as a leading figure. The woman’s name is believed to be Columbia a goddess like figure that leads the people. She is wearing white clothing, was blonde hair and holds a book in her hands. All those things symbolize different things. The white clothing and blond hair symbolizes a god like figure, she is presented as a goddess in order to state power and purity. She is pictured as a one of god followers to help and lead the human kind to a new era. The book in her hands represent the bible the need to spread Christianity in the new continent of the United States but also it represent the guidance of people and a sense of security. As mentioned already Columbia also represents purity and prosperity. It is needed to point out the climate and weather changes as she leads the crowd. The weather changes from light to darkness this imitates the difficulties that the people will have to face during this journey of expansionism.

In the picture there are other components that are also important and carry a different meaning behind them. As Columbia is leading the people it is visible how as the people follow where are new components that appear with them and that is the technological advancement. During that expansionism new ways to travel and technological advances had elevated. Elements like waterways, railroads and stage coaches were the technological advancements of the time period. Those advancements were used as tools in order to help to expansion. Railroads helped expand in the Western Industries and where used as a new way to link the two industry markets on the Western and Easter Part of the nation. Transportation and the market revolution were resulted by the creation of railroads. During the 18th century most farm families engaged in subsistence agriculture. Subsistence agriculture is a phenomenon that occurs when farmers grow their own food and plans crops in order to provide for themselves. Furthermore railroads change agriculture from local to commercial agriculture. Meaning that due to the new ways of transportation for the time period people were finally starting to create a market and trading goods with each other for the west to the east nation and the opposite. This encouraged the western settlement which was the massive migration of white settlers from the eastern side to west. It was the awakening for industrial life that will follow later in the United States of America.

[image: ] Waterways were also an evolutional way of transportation and trading that helped with America’s idea for expansion. Waterways were either a river or canal that would be used for traveling by water. They were used for trading between the nation and the transportation of products. Stage coaches were horse- drawn vehicles that were used during the expansion in order to carry passengers and to mail government contracts. At last the during that time period, there was a common belief among White Men that they had to carry out the “White Man’s Burden”. The White Man’s Burden was considered that burden to white men to colonize that United States. They believed that it was the duty to teach and impose civilization. The telegraph

Furthermore, long term effects of the Western Expansion was the inspiration of people to explore and settle in the West. This mindset of expansion caused disregard to the territorial rights that Native Americans. This notion lead to the disappearance of many tribes, cultural diversity, tensions between people and wars over land. Overall the expansion rose to the creation of a new era for the United States and gave it power, and for the first time to be the ability to truly be independent.

Manifest Destiny was the root that led to the Western Expansion. The beliefs that it was Americas destiny created by God to bring light create to union that would bring prosperity, wealth and the spread of Christianity. Benefits that rose from the movements were the elevation of all technology. Railroads, Waterways, Stage Coaches and the telegraph were new inventions of the time that helped people and are still part of our daily life today. The picture of Columbia leading the people, means to be the need for change for the United States to explore a new Era and the greed of people needing power. It is hard to put it into words but it represents arrogance to be, but also the human nature of mankind to look and concur the unknown. For the people of the past, I believe it represents hope and the chance for a new beginning. People during the 1800’s were trying to find their place in the United States and discover themselves after the colonization. They were searching for gold and wealth and it makes me think that they were trying to find a new purpose.

John L. Maggee, lithograph, ‘ Southern Chivalry—Argument Versus Club’s, ‘ 1856. Courtesy of American Antiquarian Society, Worcester, Massachusetts, Polit. Cart. S716.

“Southern Chivalry – Argument versus Club’s” is a political cartoon by I.L Magee, that demonstrates the feelings of revulsion that Northerners had expressed due to the Summer Brooks affair. The question that is being states is about the expansion of slavery in the North side on the United States.

The story behind this political cartoon starts with Franklin Pierce was the 14th president of the United States and he served his presidential term in 1853. He was a Northern Democrat and he hated the abolitionist movement. The abolitionist movement consisted of a group of activist minded Americans that were trying to take a stand against slavery and the spread of slavery. President Franklin opposed that movement and he enforced fugitive slave laws across the United States. The fugitive slave law was a compromise between the Southerners slave owners and the Northerners which allow Southerners to enter the North in order to bring their fugitive slaves back to the South. This law started to create conflict between the South and the North.

Moreover, the Kansas Nebraska Act was the most significant event that led to the Civil War of the United States of America. The purpose of the Kansas Nebraska Act that was created by Stephen Douglas who was a Senate of Illinois, was to create territories in Kansas and Nebraska. The Act allowed people that entered the territories of Kansas and Nebraska to vote whether they allowed the expansion of slavery within the borders. As a remaindered that people of Kansas and Nebraska were against the expansion of slavery in their territories.

This Act resulted to the “Bleeding Kansas” were Southerners and Northerners raced to settle in Kansas. Missouri paired to vote for slavery. The results of the vote stated that 60% of the votes were illegal and the Northerners claim that those votes weren’t from the true residents of Kansas and demanded to vote again. After that incident violence broke out between pro and anti-slavery factions. A referendum happened in order to represent to true population of Kansas. The Constitution returned to Kansas, and as they revote the results applied that Kansas would enter the Union as free slave.

In the political cartoon the two men in the picture are Preston Brooks and Charles Sumner. Brooks attacks Sumner after his speech denouncing “Border Ruffians”. The Border Ruffians were a group of pro- slavery activist from Missouri that crossed the border of Kansas in order to force the acceptance of slavery. This political cartoon represents the frustration of the Northerners that were against slavery, and the corruption of the political system. As we can see this debate between pro and anti-slavery resulted to a lot of violent acts during the time period. A chaos [image: ]across North and South and the anger of both sides in clearly visible in the cartoon. The men in the picture represent the opposing points of view for slavery and the political instability of the time period. The cartoon is meant to illustrate the deep division between the South and North.

To sum up, this political cartoon represents the opposing activist that are pro and anti-slavery. “Southern Chivalry – Argument versus Club’s” is the name of the cartoon, that touches on many points for the time period of 1850”s. Such as the Summer Brooks affair, the Kansas Nebraska Act, bleeding Kansas, the begging on the Civil War and Franklin’s Pierce presidency. The long term effects of the Southern Chivalry – Argument versus Club’s was the slavery didn’t expand to the North. This was the first step that would lead to a new era for the prohibition of slavery across the United States Nation. Another effect was that Brook had to resign from office and a new representative needed to be elected for Massachusetts.

I believe that this cartoon is an important component for the American history. For me it represents, the new era that would begin for the United States and the first steps against slavery. Also, it shows me the power of men in general and the corrupted political system at the time. As for the people of the past, the cartoon illustrates power and hope. A new begging in which people have a voice and understand the difference between right and wrong. A political system that is able to represent the voices of its people and the necessity for change.

The Critical period took place in the 1783 till the 1789. The period was coined by John Adams and it refers to the states of the United States rebelling with the Articles of Confederation in the name of independence. The critical period refers to the end of the American Revolution were the newly nation was trying to find balance in all the chaos.

This cartoon illustrates the reaction of the states due to the corrupted politics of the state governments and the problems that the nation faced after the American Revolution. Some of the major problem the nation came across was high taxes, foreign affairs, trade with Britain and France, and military problems. Those issues resulted to the creation of the US Constitution during the 1787. The Confederation was adopted by the Congress in 1777, but not ratified by the states until 1781.

The Articles of Confederation provided a loose Confederation or “firm league of friendship”. Thirteen states were linked and worked together for common purpose “independence”. The federal government was weak, power with states fair of monarchy. The system worked by each state being represented by one vote that everyone has to agree to.

[image: ]The Articles of Confederation which was the United States’ first constitution is referred in the political cartoon. The Articles were written rules for the government of the American nation. The Articles were a national government composed of the Congress which had the power to control the decisions of the government. The Articles did not include a president because the American nation feared tyranny due to King George III, that if someone holds power they will use it to abuse their liberties. In the cartoon different states are represented in a boat with named “USA Articles of Confederation” which represents the attempts of the states for a fair political system and the freedom of the American nation from the Union with Britain. The Articles were voted and adopted in order to Declare Americas Independence to justify the Revolution as the US wanted to declare that the colonies would be independent for Great Brain.

The Treaty of Paris was a peace treaty between the US and Great Britain in 1783. The purpose of the treaty was to acknowledge the US nation as independent, to allow retaining share of variables fisheries between the two nations. The treaty was signed but Great Britain never actually acknowledged the United States’ power or independence. The fact that Britain never acknowledged Americas’ independence and term for peace started to create conflict between the two nations.

Shay’s Rebellion refers to the uprising of Massachusetts by opposing the debt crisis. The causes for the rebellion were debt collection, heavy taxes, and political corruption. The movement was created by farmers that were in debt. The movement was a result of the empowered wealthy citizens abusing their power by lending money to finance armies in result for high taxation for poor farmers. This created an economic crisis in Massachusetts and caused many farmers to owe huge debts. In many cases farmers were taken to court and gotten imprisoned due to their debt. This created the rebellion against the corrupted political system and the prevention of the imprisonment for in debt farmers. The rebellion represented the weakness of the Articles of Confederation.

The Northwest Ordinance of 1787 was a really important legislative Act that was able to address political needs, bring states into the Union to the territory and listed the Bill of Rights. The Ordinance was able to bring different elements of the west under control. The Northwest territory was used for admitting new states in the union and listed bill of rights for those territories. The Bill of Rights was rights that were given to the people guaranteeing freedom of speech, assembly and worship. The Northwest Ordinance was used to create political systems in the territories and achieving mechanism. This was the first mile stone was would finally create the united Nation that is known was the United States of America.

[image: ]The political cartoon illustration a newly independent nation trying to get in track. The cartoon represent unity was we see all the states together in one boat heading towards independence. Also, it reflects of on the misfortunes and problems that the nation will come across along the way as a rock river is represented. This refers to the corrupted political system and the abusive use of power, the failure of the Articles of Confederation, the opposing points of view between states and the economic crisis during the time period.

The long terms effects that were created due to the Critical period were the Unity of the Americans nation, as the states came all together and resulted to the American Nation we know today. Another effect would be the US Constitution. As it is known the Articles of Confederation failed to achieves the needs of the United States and that how the US Constitution was created. This resulted to all the Amendments after the Bills of Right and the creation of the different branches inside the central government. The Amendments are meant to protect the rights of the people, and the different branches; legislative, execute and judicial branch are meant to carry different functions of the central government in order to reassure the protection of the citizens from the government.

For me the political cartoon demonstrates the power of unity that the United States truly possesses. It shows me, persistence and intelligence, and how a nation united can truly bring justice upon the people the abuse their power. When I see this cartoon I get reminded of all the hardships the people had to go through in addition to get that we all have today. For the people of the past, this cartoon refers as a reminded for their achievement and change of the nation. It represents hope and unity as the Americans nation was able to bring justice to this people and protect them for the corruption of the economy, policies and the world itself.

Work Cited

  1. “Manifest Destiny.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 17 Nov. 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manifest_destiny. Accessed 24 Nov. 2019.
  2. “Manifest Destiny: Causes and Effects of Westward Expansion.” Khan Academy, 2019 Khan Academy, https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/us-history/civil-war-era/sectional-tension-1850s/v/manifest-destiny. Accessed 24 Nov. 2019.
  3. “Manifest Destiny and Westward Expansion.” History Teaching Institute, https://hti.osu.edu/history-lesson-plans/united-states-history/manifest-destiny-westward-expansion. Accessed 24 Nov. 2019.
  4. Lumen Learning Follow. “Open Stax history_ch14 Troubled Times – the Tumultuous 1850s_imagesli…” LinkedIn SlideShare, 14 May 2015, https://www.slideshare.net/CandelaContent/open-stax-historych14-troubled-times-the-tumultuous-1850simageslideshowppt. Accessed 25 Nov. 2019.
  5. “Southern Chivalry – Argument Versus Clubs: History of SC Slide Collection.” Southern Chivalry – Argument Versus Clubs | History of SC Slide Collection | Knowitall.org, https://www.knowitall.org/photo/southern-chivalry-argument-versus-clubs-history-sc-slide-collection. Accessed 25 Nov. 2019.
  6. “The Kansas-Nebraska Act.” Ushistory.org, Independence Hall Association, https://www.ushistory.org/us/31a.asp. Accessed 26 Nov. 2019.
  7. “Northwest Ordinance (1787).” Our Documents – Northwest Ordinance (1787), https://www.ourdocuments.gov/doc.php?flash=false&doc=8. Accessed 30 Nov. 2019.
  8. “Northwest Ordinance (1787).” Our Documents – Northwest Ordinance (1787), https://www.ourdocuments.gov/doc.php?flash=false&doc=8. Accessed 26 Nov. 2019.
  9. “Shays’ Rebellion.” Ushistory.org, Independence Hall Association, https://www.ushistory.org/us/15a.asp. Accessed 30 Nov. 2019.
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