Les 4e Euro réfléchissent : was it really a manifest destiny though ?

16 Fév 2024 | Anglais, Disciplines, Histoire/ Géo / EMC, Informations ponctuelles

Dans le cadre de notre chapitre sur « MANIFEST DESTINY » et la conquête de l’Ouest américain les élèves de 4e ALI et RUSSEL de M. Pappalardo ont été amenés à travailler sur les les évènements qui ont poussé le peuple americain à considérer l’idéologie protestante selon laquelle la nation américaine aurait pour mission divine l’expansion de la « civilisation » au détriment des Natifs. Ce tableau, intitulé American Progress, est devenu un exemple fondateur de l’art occidental américain. Le tableau est une allégorie de la Destinée manifeste et de la Conquête de l’Ouest. L’analyse de ce célèbre tableau leur a permis de comprendre la propagande ideologique en vigueur à cette époque. Elle met en scène l’essor du rêve américain, illustrant la découverte de territoires vierges où chacun a la liberté de s’implanter, de vivre sa vie et de faire fortune.

The artist we are about to study painted a biased perspective of Westward Expansion: American settlers would bring light to the so-called dark spaces of the world, thanks to new communication and modern development. The reality was much more complicated. Indeed, if some Americans benefitted from Westward expansion establishing homestead and created a new life, others were not so lucky. Many American Indian Nations were pushed from their Homelands and mistreated by the settlers. On top of that Slavery expanded into the West.

This painting is an oil on canvas painted by John GAST in 1872 titled «American Progress» on a canvas measuring 29,2cm x 40cm. It is kept at the Autry Museum of the American West in Los Angeles, California. Before the painting was made there was a growing feeling that it was America’s Destiny to go Westward to the Pacific Ocean, and that nothing will stop the country’s quest in achieving that goal.In 1845 the term Manifest Destiny was used for the first time to describe Western Expansion in the US, by John O’SULLIVAN a Newspaper editor. Indeed, he wrote an article in the US Magazine & Democratic Review called Annexation.

Westward Expansion started around 1803 with the Louisiana Purchase. President Thomas Jefferson almost doubled the size of the nation. Then there was the Annexation of Florida from Spain which adds more territory to the US and finally there was the Independence of Texas from Mexico in 1845.

In the middle of the foreground I can see a flying fair skinned woman with blond hair, red lips and dark eyes. This goddess-like woman has long, blond curly hair flowing in the wind. In her hair she has a star I am not sure but I think it represents a colony like in the flag of the United States. She is wearing a long silky white dress. In her hand I can see that she is holding a telegraph wire, I am guessing that it shows the fact that as the Westward Expansion was happening, Americans thought that they were bringing light to the dark and gloomy side of America by installing new communication there thanks to electricity.

A little further down on the left there is what seems to be a bear running away from a group of three men walking with weapons in their hands and a man riding a horse. On the right of the foreground there are farmers plowing the ground with two oxen next to them, one brown and the other black. A little further on the right I can also see a little wooden cabin with a chimney. On the left along the river there is a group of Natives , two horses and foxes running away from what I assume are the incoming new settlers. Next to the group of Natives there is a covered wagon painted blue with red wheels pulled by what I guess are buffalos. In the middle I can see a red and black stage coach with six horses following a dirt path. Behind the stage coach there is a train and even further we can see even more railroads. And on the top right hand corner there are ships following the river with a hill behind. Meanwhile on the left in the background there is a large herd of bisons running and even further there is an enormous Mountain with dark clouds above.

We can see that the right, where the settlers are coming from, it is bright, it has light however the more you go left the more it gets dim and ill-lit. I imagine it is meant to show the belief that since the West wasn’t well known, Americans assumed that they would bring knowledge, and culture to the savage side of the country.

Emma

First of all, let me describe this document. This document is an oil on canvas made by John Gast in 1872. The title of this oil on canvas is “American Progress” and you can find it in Los Angeles.

So now let me tell you all about American Progress. Before going any further I believe it’s important to explain how colonists first arrived. Settlers came to Turtle Island and they thought that this continent was only for them because for them it was something given by God or a higher power.
They quickly wanted more territories so they started to expand and quickly believed in the concept of “Manifest Destiny”- it meant that they were right to expand westward. So they moved west and they settled in new places, forcing Natives out of their homeland.

Let’s go back to the description of the document. In the foreground, we can see a lady and she looks like a goddess because of her white clothes. We can see that she is carrying a book, I guess it’s to teach the natives how to be good citizens of America and she also carries a telegraph wire, I guess that shows electricity and the development of the continent.

To me this lady symbolizes America. It’s an allegory. In the background, we can see on the right the light : it represents the locations that we know. The lands settlers have already conquered. We can also see ships, bridges, people, farmers, horses, covered wagons, plow, wooden cabins, trains on railroads going to the west and we can see mountains. On the left, we can see the darkness, it represents unknown locations, we can also see Natives, buffalos and other animals who are fleeing the settlers. This is of course a biased vision.

Ciel

Let us present this oil on canvas by John Gast. The title is «American Progress». Now it is kept at the Autry Museum of the American West in Los Angeles.

It represents the offsprings of the formerly persecuted English subjects of James I who colonized American lands by pushing back Native People from the east to the west by persecuting them. Sounds familiar right ? Here lies all the irony of the very concept of Manifest Destiny. Were the settlers really entitled to settle there ?

Now, in the background, on the right, I can see bridges and boats arriving on the shores of the river, probably Mississippi River. We understand that as soon as the English have passed over the land, civilization arrives as a result trains heading are west, people are cultivating the land in the bottom right hand corner. We see that as soon as the English colonize the land, there’s darkness. We see the advance of the newly American people through a woman who represents the people. Her progress is their progress and her goddess-like appearance points out how it is God’s will.

In the dark we can see horses, oxen, buffalos, bisons and bears running away from the light along with the Natives, being repelled and taking refuge in the darkness. The settlers are traveling in stage coaches, covered wagons and plows. We believe it means this expansion was for everyone, rich or poor. In the background, on the left, there are mountains in the gloomy, snowy weather.

The woman who stands out the darkness and light brings forth electricity and railroads to offer civilization to the darkness of the West. In her hands, the woman holds a school book to teach the next generation. We think it shows they will settle down for a long time and start a new life there. They’re trying to find ways of communicating, they’ve installed telegraph wires they’ve installed this to communicate with the rest of the continent by telegraph. We can’t be not sure but we guess the woman is a goddess, for she flies above the earth. The woman’s breast is half-naked, a sign that she can give birth and is therefore a symbol of fertility.

This is what the painting called «American Progress.»

Baptiste, Emmy, Chloé

Well, first, let me present this new document. This new document is a painting named Manifest Destiny by John Gast in 1872.

The artist painted a biased perspective of Westward expansion: American settlers would bring light to the so-called dark spaces of the world, thanks to the new communication and modern development. The reality was much more complicated. Indeed, if some Americans benefitted from Westward Expansion establishing homestead and created a new life, others were not so lucky. Many Americans Indians Nations were pushed from their homelands and mistreated by the settlers. On top of that, slavery expanded into the West.

So, now, let’s talk about the woman in the middle of the picture. She represents the concept of the civilisation and the progress which spread across America. There was a growing feeling that is was America’s destiny to go Westward to the pacific Ocean, and that nothing will stop the country’s quest in achieving that goal. In 1845, the term MANIFEST DESTINY was used for the first time to describe Western expansion in the US by John O’Sullivan a newspaper editor. Indeed, he wrote an article in the US Magazine & Democratic Review called Annexation.

We can see she carries a school book that represents the education that they want imposed on the Natives. She also carries an electric wire which represents novelty and modern development. She wears a white ethereal dress that looks like that of a goodness. She has loose blond, curly hair with a star on the forehead, probably as a way to symbolize the states of the new republic. I’m not sure but I guess, this recalled the American flag. She clearly stands out as the artist wanted to highlight it because it represents the United States and their independence.

Finally, she is an allegorical figure who symbolizes the westward expansion and rise of the American nation. This is why it is heading west, as she «opens» the way to progress and the colonization of the West.

Next, let’s talk about the right side who represents the American world represented by the civilisation like trains, boats and bridges. The light represents the urbanisation and the conquest of the West.

At last, let me talk about the Natives. This part is in the darkness because with this, the artist wants to show nature and the wilderness and the fact that light brings renewal.

Léa & Valentine

Let me present this document, it’s an oil on canvas by John Gast. The name of the painting is “American Progress”. It is exhibited in Autry National Center, in Los Angeles, California. It was painted in 1872.

I can see in the painting, an ethereal woman with a white toga, who has a school book (which represents education). She has in her hand an electric cable to bring light to the darkness representing knowledge and modernity.

Why a woman though ? Because she is a representation of fertility.

On the right I can see a port with ships: it’s the unique tool to bridge gaps. Above the river, there are trains and hills who represent the progress of Americans and modernity. In the foreground, there are both coaches and covered wagons as a way to show if you are poor you need to go to the West, if you are rich you need to go to the West. The US are the land of opportunities and prosperities.

In the foreground, there are farmer who are hunting animals and Natives off their land. In the background there is in the Est, flat hills for property and in the West, chaotic mountains for brutality. In the left I can see Savages running away to the west because the Americans are pushing them off their ancestral homes.

To me, the historical background behind this oil on canvas is very strange. The English came to the «New World» to stop being persecuted. When they arrived as winter came, some Natives helped them to farm their land and hunt on their continent. Two-hundred years after they pushed the Natives off their lands.

Eimeo & Remy

Well, let me present this document.
The name of the document is American Progress. It represents the Westward Expansion of the US. It is an oil on canvas.

In the foreground, I can see colonists who are heading West. They are pushing the Natives Westward in the process. In the background, there are trains going West as well. There are snowy mountains in the far back. In the foreground, on the right, there are rivers, where there are boats sailing and bridges connecting people. Americans are expanding westward because they believe that it is America’s divine right to expand. This is named «Manifest Destiny

The artist painted a biased perspective of Westward Expansion: American settlers would bring light to the so-called dark spaces of the world, thanks to new communication and modern development.

The reality was very much more complicated. Indeed, if some Americans benefitted from Westward Expansion establishing homestead and created a new life, others were not so lucky. Many Americans Indian Nations were pushed from their homelands and mistreated by the settlers. On top of that slavery expanded into the West.

In the middle of the painting, there is a woman who is holding both a schoolbook and an electric wire. She symbolizes Civilisation. She «brings» forth «knowledge» and religion to the «savages». She looks like an angel which goes to show how much based on religion this new republic is.

Fregan

Well, first, let me present the document. Obviously, this document is an oil on canvas. The title of the document is American Progress. It was painted in 1872 by John Gast, who is a Prussian painter, printer and lithographer who lived in Brooklyn.

It is exhibited in the Autry National Center, in Los Angeles, California. Then, the painting has the name of a term used for the first time to describe Western Expansion in the US by John O’Sullivan a newspaper editor. It was in 1845 and came after the purchase of Louisiana from France in 1803, the annexation of Florida from Spain in 1819 and Independence of Texas from Mexico in 1845 by Americans.

First, I could see a woman in the middle of the painting: she is wearing a white long dress so she looks like an Angel. I’m not sure but I suppose she is flying from the East to the West to describe Westward Expansion. She has in her hand a school book which represents education.

Then, I can also see that the sky becomes lighter and the transport modes are best (the carts become trains and boats) when the woman comes: I don’t know for sure, but I think it means American settlers would bring light thanks to new communication and modern development.

To conclude, the painting represents a positive picture of the Westward Expansion but there are a lot of negative impacts: for example the Indians were pushed from their homelands and mistreated by the settlers and slavery expanded into the West.

Paco