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Early Scientific Exploration and Surveys

While the profit motive dominated the movement westward, the Federal government played a vital role in securing land and maintaining law and order, which allowed the expansion to proceed. 

Despite the Jeffersonian aversion and mistrust of federal power, it bore more heavily in the West than any other region, and made possible the fulfillment of Manifest Destiny. 

Since local governments were often absent or weak, Westerners, though they grumbled about it, depended on the federal government to protect them and their rights, and displayed little of the outright antipathy of some Easterners to Federalism.

True or False?

1. The federal government established a sequence of actions related to control over western lands.

2. The process was a smooth one.

3. Jedediah Smith led a party in 1805-6, under the orders of General James Wilkinson, commander of the western American army.

4. Major Stephen H. Long led the Yellowstone and Missouri expeditions of 1819-1820 and categorizing of the Great Plains as arid and useless.

5. All of Thomas Nuthall's documents and specimens are well maintained.

6. Artist George Catlin painted accurate paintings of American Indian culture.

7. Michael Patrick McWeeny traveled about the Mississippi Basin collecting specimens and making sketches for his monumental books Birds of America.

8. By 1840, the discoveries of explorers, naturalists, and mountain men had produced maps showing the rough outlines of the entire West to the Pacific Ocean.


 

Answers

1. True. First, the federal government acquired western territory from other nations or native tribes by treaty; then it sent surveyors and explorers to map and document the land. Next, it ordered federal troops to clear out and subdue the resisting natives. Finally, it had bureaucracies manage the land, such as the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Land Office, the U.S. Geological Survey, and the Forest Service.

2. False. The process was not a smooth one. Indian resistance, sectionalism, and racism forced some pauses in the process of westward settlement. Nonetheless, by the end of the 19th century, in the process of conquering and managing the West, the federal government amassed great size, power, and influence in national affairs.

3. False. Zebulon Pike led a party in 1805-6, under the orders of General James Wilkinson, commander of the western American army. Their mission was to find the head waters of the Mississippi (which turned out to be Lake Itasca, and not Leech Lake as Pike concluded).

4. True. Major Stephen H. Long led the Yellowstone and Missouri expeditions of 1819-1820, but his categorizing of the Great Plains as arid and useless led to the region getting a bad reputation as the �Great American Desert�, which discouraged settlement in that area for several decades.

5. False. Thomas Nuthall was the most traveled Western naturalist before 1840, unfortunately most of his documentation and specimens were lost.

6. True. Artist George Catlin traveled up the Missouri as far as present-day North Dakota, producing accurate paintings of American Indian culture.

7. False. In 1820, John James Audubon traveled about the Mississippi Basin collecting specimens and making sketches for his monumental books Birds of America and The Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America, classic works of naturalist art.

8. True. By 1840, the discoveries of explorers, naturalists, and mountain men had produced maps showing the rough outlines of the entire West to the Pacific Ocean.

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