American Eras: Westward Expansion (1800–1860)

384p. (American Eras). bibliog. chron. further reading. index. maps. notes. photos. reprods. websites. Gale Cengage. 2014. Tr $193. ISBN 9781414498263. LC 2013035255.
Gr 9 Up—This collection of primary sources reveals the 19th-century American fascination with the West and explains how the westward movement affected white and nonwhite ethnic groups, including Native Americans, blacks, and others. Thematic chapter topics mirror those in Gale's similarly titled American Eras: Westward Expansion (1999), including the arts, business, communication, education, government, religion, and science and technology. However, while the earlier title was a look at the history of the movement, this work is comprised of primary sources, including reproductions of art and advertisements, songs and poetry, readings drawn from published and unpublished letters, accounts, reports, legislation and court opinions, and treaties. There is considerable information about Texas and California, both magnets for migration and sources of domestic and foreign conflict and tensions between settlers and Native peoples. Chapters begin with a general overview and chronology, and each entry identifies the primary source and its author or creator, places it into context, and objectively discusses its significance. The primary sources, many excerpts, are often less than a page, and the entries conclude with a list of additional print and electronic resources. Well-chosen period photos and illustrations enhance the text, and the index is comprehensive. This book's main strength is its first-hand accounts that show how the westward movement was a dominant aspect of American life, driven by popular certainty in America's Manifest Destiny and public perception of unlimited economic opportunities, missionary and reform impulses, and innovations that conquered the West's vast distances,. It is a solid companion to Gale's American Eras: Westward Expansion and a supplemental choice for libraries that don't have it.—Mary Mueller, Rolla Public Schools, MO

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