American Progress

Creator: John Gast

Context: This 1872 lithograph appeared during one of the peak periods of the Westward expansion process that was a central part of 19th century American culture.

Audience: Lithographs such as this one were marketed to a popular audience and reached a wide spectrum of the American public.

Purpose: To promote the migration of Americans to the West as both inevitable and divinely ordained.

Historical Significance: This picture reflects a dominant 19th-century belief that the American West was land that God intended for white settlers from the United States, a view that ignored the presence of Native Americans, Mexican Americans, African Americans and many other groups that had traveled north, east and south to reach these lands.