Jul 15, 2011

Westward Expansion

Scenes from the View-Master Bicentennial packet Westward Expansion (B812).


View-Master Westward Expansion (B812), Packet Cover

Packet Cover


From the 16-page booklet:

(This is the third of a series of four View-Master packets covering 200 years of U.S. history. The other three packets are entitled The Revolutionary War, Forging a Nation, and The Twentieth Century.)

About 1850, Henry Clay, riding across Cumberland Gap—the first gateway of westward migration—had his carriage stopped. Asked why he lingered, he said, “I am listening to the tread of the coming millions.”

Push westward! This was the pulse-beat of America until the close of the 19th century. There is room enough, Thomas Jefferson had said, “for our descendants to the …thousandth generation.” In 1845 a magazine declared that it was America’s “Manifest Destiny” to “overspread the continent.” And in 1851 New York editor Horace Greeley counseled: “Go West, young man, and grow up with the country.”

In general, three types of pioneers went West. First came the hunter or trapper; next, the itinerant farmer, always moving on; finally, the settler who “stayed put.”


Scene A2

Township Auction, 1787

View-Master Westward Expansion (B812), Scene A-2: Township Auction, 1787

Township System began with sales of Northwest Territory land


From the 16-page booklet:


The region now covered by Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and part of Minnesota was called the Northwest Territory. In 1785 Congress ordered it surveyed into townships 6 miles square, each divided into 36 sections. The Ohio Company, organized in 1786 at Boston, did a “land-office business” auctioning 640-acre sections for $1 per acre or more.

The system of townships and sections was continued later as the Nation expanded westward. You can see it from the air in the checkerboard pattern of farms.


Scene B1

On the Erie Canal, 1826

View-Master Westward Expansion (B812), Scene B-1: On the Erie Canal, 1826

Erie Canal made New York No. 1 seaport of the Nation


From the 16-page booklet:


Even by the 1820’s, most land travel was still difficult. Gov. DeWitt Clinton of New York pushed to completion a 363-mile-long canal linking Lake Erie with the Hudson River. Nicknamed "Clinton’s Ditch,” the Erie Canal was opened Nov. 4, 1825.

It was an instant success. Ohio population boomed, and almost overnight New York grew from a market town on the Hudson to the Nation’s No. 1 port.

For passengers, canal travel had its problems. At least once every mile their boat would pass under a bridge so low that everybody would have to lie down on the deck!


Scene B3

Mississippi Steamboat, 1830’s

View-Master Westward Expansion (B812), Scene B-3: Mississippi Steamboat, 1830s

Great era of Mississippi steamboats began in 1830’s


From the 16-page booklet:



1830’S AND 1840’S

In 1811 the first steamboat churned its way down the Mississippi River to New Orleans. By the 1830’s a steady procession of them plied the river—some of them floating palaces with thick carpets, crystal chandeliers, and perhaps a shifty-eyed gambler or two. Small boys of riverside towns, in the Tom Sawyer tradition, thrilled to hear the cry, “Steamboat a-comin’!” and raced barefooted to the dock to see the splendid sight.


Scene C3

First Transcontinental Railroad, 1869

View-Master Westward Expansion (B812), Scene C-3: First Transcontinental Railroad, 1869

Rival railroads linked in 1869, spanning the continent


From the 16-page booklet:


In 1862 Congress authorized two railroads, the Central Pacific and Union Pacific, to build lines toward each other from, respectively, Sacramento and Omaha. The two railroads began a wild race to lay track. The Central Pacific crew was Chinese; the Union Pacific, mostly Irishmen.

The lines met in 1869 at Promontory Point, near Ogden, Utah. On May 10, a golden spike was driven to celebrate America’s first transcontinental railroad.

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