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Making the White Man's West

Making the White Man's West: Whiteness and the Creation of the American West OPEN ACCESS

Jason E. Pierce
Copyright Date: 2016
Pages: 312
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  • Book Info
    Making the White Man's West
    Book Description:

    Traces Russia's transforming nationalism, from imperialism, through ethnocentrism and migration phobia, to territorial expansion

    eISBN: 978-1-60732-396-9
    Subjects: History
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Table of Contents

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  1. In Los Angeles, the pugnacious editor Charles Fletcher Lummis declared, “Our ‘foreign element’ is . . . a few thousand industrious Chinamen and perhaps 500 native Californians who do not speak English. The ignorant, hopelessly un-American type of foreigners, which infests and largely controls Eastern cities, is almost unknown here. Poverty and illiteracy do not exist as classes.”¹ California and the West, Lummis argued, offered Americans a last chance to create a perfect society. Lummis’s utopian vision of the West imagined small, orderly cities, productive mines and farms, and a population dominated by Anglo-Americans with enough Hispanic, American Indian, and...

  2. Part I: From Dumping Ground to Refuge:: Imagining the White Man’s West, 1803–1924
  3. Part II: Creating and Defending the White Man’s West
    • Anglo-Americans, from Thomas Jefferson at the beginning of the nineteenth century to Joseph Pomeroy Widney at the century’s end, envisioned the West as more than an ordinary place. They dreamed of it as home to a rugged, independent, white population. For Jefferson, the West would be home to his ideal yeoman farmers, noble tillers of the soil and keepers of the sacred charge of freedom; for Widney, the Engle-Americans, as he called them, would complete the march to the setting sun that had begun on the steppes of Russia in a time before time. This geography of the imagination, these...

    • Dr. William A. Bell, a transplanted English physician and promoter for the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railway, observed in his 1869 bookNew Tracks in North Americathat the West offered unlimited potential for creating prosperous new towns and generating profits for discerning investors, but its development would require men of vision, courage, and capital to make dreams a reality. The West stood forth as a vast region “where continuous settlement is impossible, where, instead of navigable rivers, we find arid deserts, but where, nevertheless, spots of great fertility and the richest prizes of the mineral kingdom tempt men...

    • Whiteness influenced the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in two important ways. First, the Mormons attempted to convert souls across the globe with little blatant regard for issues of race and ethnicity. Yet invisible boundaries of language, culture, and religion limited their success. At times they saw great harvests of new believers, particularly in Protestant Northern Europe. Other times, especially in Southern Europe and the Middle East, their proselytizing fell on deaf ears. Occasionally, they found success in places like the Polynesian islands that surprised even them.

      Initially, Mormon theology preached that all believers should congregate on the...

    • Anglo-Americans relied on violence to take possession of the West. Upon completing that conquest, they also used it to smother challenges to their ascendant economic and political hegemony and, in the words of historian Richard Maxwell Brown, to “preserve their favored position in the social economic and political order.” While Brown did not focus on whiteness in his discussion of vigilante violence, clearly it provided the underlying basis on which “their favored position” had been constructed. seemingly law-abiding citizens therefore could at times embrace lynchings, vigilantism, and mob violence to allegedly protect societal values and a status quo implicitly based...

  4. Being white mattered in the West. Whiteness conferred status and gave people easier access to positions of power and privilege. Although the US Congress extended citizenship to some non-whites—Hispanics after the Mexican-American War and African Americans after the Civil War—it was still something not every group could achieve. Furthermore, in practice, Hispanics and African Americans were often denied equal treatment in society. Immigration had always been tied to whiteness, and by the first decades of the twentieth century the nation increasingly tried to stem the tide of immigration using race and ethnicity. Being considered white therefore gained one...

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This book is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 3.0 International.
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