The popularized, and wholly myopic, story of the United States’ westward expansion entails great Anglo-American explorers, hardy pioneers, and disappearing Indians. But as historian Anne F. Hyde makes clear in a discussion of her Bancroft Prize-winning book, this chapter in our country’s history is more complex than that.
The Louisiana Purchase didn’t procure entirely virgin wilderness. From previous French and Spanish ownership, there were existing political and military influences, and the territory also was held together — and divided — by ethnically mixed families, friendships, and other alliances.
Hyde is the William R. Hochman Professor of History at Colorado College.
See a related KCPL resource from the Kauffman Collection: The American West
- American West 
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In the story of the American West, tales of frontier life, of Native Americans and of vigilantes and outlaws are of constant interest, and are matched by more recent interest in the growth of urban centres, the environmental impact of westward expansion and of life in the borderlands. The Graff Collection, from the Newberry Library in Chicago, is a unique resource which will allow the public to explore all of these areas and more. Through a mixture of original manuscripts, maps, ephemeral material and rare printed sources, this collection will act as a dynamic teaching and research resource.