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The notion of the Great Plains as a vast roaming ground for cowboys an

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The notion of the Great Plains as a vast roaming ground for cowboys an  [#permalink]

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New post 04 Feb 2018, 12:54
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The notion of the Great Plains as a vast roaming ground for cowboys and their herds of cattle became popular more recently than some might think. Let us first put aside that now cliché notion of a lawless Wild West with gunslingers and bandits running rampant and shootouts in front of salons every day at high noon. To be sure the west was a dangerous place, but the vast majority of the mystique surrounding the times and places comes more from East Coast writers and later imaginations than anything else. The image of a Great Plains populated by cattle herds and homesteaders was slow to emerge. Much of the settling of the West happened in land grabs after the Civil War.

In spite of the conventional interpretation, a survey of source material reveals that the image of the plains as Desert was restricted in 1825 to certain portions of the country and to certain segments of the population. Analysis of newspapers and periodical literature indicates that the Desert image was strongest in the rural areas of the Northeast and weakest in the rural areas of the South and trans-Appalachian West. Acceptance of the Desert concept was more likely among the well-educated elite, particularly in the Northeast, and acceptance of a ―Garden‖ notion was greater among the rural populations, particularly in the South and West.

American historians have argued that the myth of the Great American Desert dominated the pre-Civil War view of the Great Plains. It was this conception of the plains as Desert, according to the traditional interpretation, that caused the American folk migration westward to leap over the region during the 1840‘s and the 1850‘s. This conventional understanding is neither completely invalid nor necessarily incorrect; but it is too simplistic to be fully satisfying. To claim the universal acceptance of stereotyped images of the Great Plains is to ignore the presence of a considerable array of data to the contrary.

By the middle of the 1840‘s, the concept of the plains as Desert had become prevalent, but even then the Desert image was not the exclusive one. The year 1845 is critical, for it marked the beginning of the migration of Americans across the Plains to Oregon and California. An examination of the sources of American images of the plains in that year does not support the contention that the folk migration failed to halt on the Great Plains because that region was viewed unfavourably by the migrants. By 1845 the American frontier was bursting with what one Missouri newspaper editor called ―perfect Oregon fever.‖ But those who encouraged migration to Oregon did not deny the agricultural potential of the Plains. They simply made Oregon the logical and desirable culmination of the American drive to the Pacific.

This notion of Manifest Destiny was so pervasive during that time. It was considered by most Americans to be not merely a right, but a duty to settle the continent from shore to shore, plowing through the middle of the country to reach the inevitable destination. To substantiate the point that the folk elements of American society did not see the plains as Desert, one need only look at the records of those who crossed the Plains on their way to Oregon or California. A survey of the diaries from the years preceding the Civil War uncovers only 17 references to Desert conditions in the Great Plains.

1. According to the information presented by the author in the passage, American migrants travelling throughout the United States in the mid-1840‘s often:

A. doubted the economic potential of the Great Plains.
B. had an overly optimistic image of the Great Plains.
C. had geographical destinations other than the Great Plains.
D. were misinformed by newspaper stories.
E. faced threats from bandits


2. All of the following can be found in the author‘s argument about the Great Plains EXCEPT:

A. a contrast between the views of Americans who lived in different regions.
B. a comparison of written and oral accounts of the migration experience.
C. a general description of people who believed the Great Plains to be a Desert.
D. an indication as to when westward migration activities increased in scope.
E. a mention of the opinion of American historians


3. Which of the following best summarizes the author‘s attitude toward the traditional view as posed in the passage that most Americans regarded the Great Plains as Desert?

A. It ignores conflicting evidence.
B. It is irrelevant to historical understanding.
C. It is substantially correct.
D. Its importance has been unappreciated.
E. It is absolutely absurd


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Re: The notion of the Great Plains as a vast roaming ground for cowboys an  [#permalink]

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Re: The notion of the Great Plains as a vast roaming ground for cowboys an &nbs [#permalink] 02 Oct 2018, 19:08
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