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Technological Progress in America

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                                                    Technological Progress in America    

          As America continued to expand its colonies along the west, the pursuit of efficiency in agriculture and transportation spreads across the nation. The commonly held doctrine of the manifest destiny was an impetus to the growth of technology in the nation; railroads were constructed, carriages were being utilized, and landlines were being planted. The infrastructure of America was aggrandizing, and this is most visible in Document O, in John Gast’s illustration- “Spirit of the Frontier”. The illustration portrays the strength of technological developing from the east to the west, as the direction the subjects move in painting is heading forward that direction, with technology following their trail. The Indians in the illustration are shown to be primitive-obsolete-, as they flee from the overwhelming growth of the union. The illustration presents the settled areas (located on the right side of the painting) with more efficient farming methods, and a train likely used to import goods. The illustration foreshadows the technological progress yet to come to the west, as the union continues to further means of transportation across the nation. Communication is highlighted as the focal point of the illustration, as the painting displays a gallant woman holding telegraph wires as she drifts to west. John Gast illustrates the essence of the manifest destiny; the result of colonial conviction to grow, settle, and develop. The manifest destiny impacted technological effectively by catalyzing the colonists to expand geographically and thus find more efficient means to capitalize (and thrive) on its progressing infrastructure.

       During the 1800s, many major technological developments have already been in place, such as the cotton gin and railroads. More settlers expanded toward the west, and more vacant land was available for infrastructural growth.  However, the climate in the west was significantly different than the climate in the east; the weather towards the west was hotter and very dry. This made the soil harder, and farmers had to find new means to break through the soil for possible agriculture. Thus, you had the invention of the steel plow, which in comparison to the wooden plow, was much more efficient in the great plains of the west. This example is present in John Gast’s illustration, where two farmers are using a steel plow to break the through the dry soil (Document O). The example presents one of many minute developments of technology at the time, and Gast intentionally includes this detail to represent the subtle impact of new agricultural technology at the time. The geographical growth to the west was arguably adjacent to the growth of technology, so as more technology (such as the steel plow) was being developed, more western land was sought out for settlement. An example of legitimate geographical expansion (in terms of immigration and settlement) would be the result of the Oregon Trail, which was influenced by the manifest destiny. O’Sullivan- the main perpetrator following the following the belief- travelled with roughly 400,000 immigrants across the Sante Fe trails to California. This was possible by technological development in transportation, such as the wagon trains visible in Gast’s illustration (Document O).

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