The Journey of the West: The Idea, The Travel, & the Change in America’s Culture and Economy

June 26, 1851

The West has been nothing but a pleasure to find my profession in. As a journalist for almost 50 years now on this topic, I have found great interest in the West and what it has meant for our country. Furthermore, within my time as a journalist, there has been much change in regards to the West and had had an incredible amount of impact on every single one of the lives that live in the United States, whether in the East, South, or the West itself.

Personally, out of all I have written about in 50 years, there are three defining moments in my knowledge of the movement westward which coincide perfectly with the defining moments of  America’s change: 1. The first discovery of the Pacific Ocean and all of the fertile ground of the West.  2. The real journey and expansion into the West (Manifest Destiny). And lastly 3. The Gold Rush and the final push and rush into the West, showing great success. All three of these moments culminate into what the West really is. It is a discovery that prompted much exploration and opportunity. It came with new struggles but it also came with much hope. And most of all it was a risk, but provided the US with a new mindset of who we are and lots of people a large amount of new success.

To understand this 50 year time period, specifically the West, the painting of Manifest Destiny called American Progress by John Gast, illustrates where we are perfectly. Along with the movement West, we also are changing into a much more industrialized and modernized world. I agree with this painting on multiple levels, except would disagree with it becoming darker as you get closer to the West. I think the West has a lot of opportunities that can be represented by light and expansion. But I love specifically the amazing articulation it has of the movement westward and how we are starting to live. We have more space, which creates a bigger journey, whether negative or positive and we are starting to see all of our territory merge together as one, specifically within the United States, but also globally. Just as Manifest Destiny says, we were destined to expand from the Atlantic to the Pacific.

If I were to take one thing away from the West, it would be how much it reflects the way our country is moving, both economically and socially. Peoples lives here have been so affected by the expansion westward. We all have one group of friends or family that has moved to the west to farm or have new opportunity. There is a sense of renewal and restarting when you reach the West. You get to start a life of your own. There is also the changes here in even prices of agriculture from the West. This movement corresponds almost flawlessly with the transportation revolution we are experiencing. There are many more options in finding ways to travel around the country as well as cultures and resources finding ways to travel around the world. It completely changes the mindset of the United Staes of America. We are now so much more than the 13 colonies. The country is finally uniting and mixing together in a country build on movement of information, cultures, and lifestyles. These social and economic changes change the way we see information and our own lives. It changes how we live. How we go about daily life. Almost every aspect of social, cultural, and economical change tie directly into every single one of us, and that is the beauty of the West and all these movements. As they grow, our opinions, opportunities, and way of life grow as well.

So, the West, I thank you for what you have given me and what you have given to this country,
Bill Jackson

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