The exploration and settlement of the American West coincided with the development of the medium of photography. Photographic images, reproduced in books and newspapers and available for purchase on their own, helped shape Americans’ perceptions of the West by reinforcing ideas about the region as a pristine wilderness of spectacular natural wonders; as a symbol of the future and the realization of manifest destiny; and as a land of economic opportunity, where fortunes could be made by extracting natural resources.
Reading 1:Our manifest destiny [is] to overspread the continent allotted by Providence for the free development of our yearly multiplying millions.
John L. O'Sullivan, 1845
Reading 2:Texas has been absorbed into the Union as the inevitable fulfillment of the general law which is rolling our population westward....It was disintegrated from Mexico in the natural course of events, by a process perfectly legitimate on its own part,...