"They follow the pioneers into a new country"
Westward the Course of Empire Takes Its Way
Public DomainWestward the Course of Empire Takes Its Way - Credit: Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze; photograph Ad Meskens

The American pioneers were those who travelled west to settle and extend their territory. As political barriers to expansion fell away during the early 1760s, hordes of Europeans, fleeing oppression in their own countries or attracted by the siren song of the American Dream, arrived in great numbers. The initial movement from the settled East Coast areas into the “Dark and Bloody Ground” of Kentucky marked the genesis of the movement that would see the whole of the present-day United States settled and Manifest Destiny fulfilled. The image of the rugged, heroic pioneer — the personification of the cherished ideals of independence and self-sufficiency — is the key-stone of America's self-perception. 

 

Columbia, the personification of America, bringing light and progress as she travels westward
Public DomainColumbia, the personification of America, bringing light and progress as she travels westward - Credit: John Gast

 

This film from the 1930s not only tells the story of America’s pioneers but reflects the glorified light in which they were seen at this time.