George A. Croffut Explains the Print "American Progress"

Entrepreneur George A. Croffut published several tourist guides and manuals encouraging Americans to visit and settle in the West. His guides prominently featured the expanding railroad network as the best way to explore the vast territory beyond the Mississippi River. This text accompanied the original printing of the 1872 print "American Progress."

Subject, The United States of America

This rich and wonderful country--the progress of which at the present time, is the wonder of the old world--was until recently, inhabited exclusively by the lurking savage and wild beasts of prey. If the rapid progress of the "Great West" has surprised our people, what will those of other countries think of the "Far West," which was destined at an early day, to be the vast granary [grain producing region], as it is now the treasure chamber of our country?...

In the foreground, the central and principal figure, a beautiful and charming Female, is floating westward through the air bearing on her forehead the "Star of Empire..." On the right of the picture is a city, steamships, manufactories, schools and churches over which beams of light are streaming and filling the air--indicative of civilization. The general tone of the picture on the left declares darkness, waste and confusion. From the city proceed the three great continental lines of railway... Next to these are the transportation wagons, overland stage, hunters, gold seekers, pony express, pioneer emigrant and the warrior dance of the "noble red man." Fleeing from "Progress"...are Indians, buffaloes, wild horses, bears, and other game, moving Westward, ever Westward, the Indians with their squaws, papooses, and "pony lodges," turn their despairing faces towards, as they flee the wondrous vision. The "Star" is too much for them

...What home, from the miner's humble cabin to the stately marble mansion of the capitalist, should be without this Great National Picture, which illustrates in the most artistic manner all the gigantic results of the American Brains and Hands! Who would not have such a beautiful token to remind them of the country's grandeur and enterprise which have cause the mighty wilderness to blossom like the rose!!! 

Source | George A. Croffut, "Subject, The United States of America," 1873 (New York).
Creator | George A. Croffut
Item Type | Article/Essay
Cite This document | George A. Croffut, “George A. Croffut Explains the Print "American Progress",” HERB: Resources for Teachers, accessed September 30, 2014, http://herb.ashp.cuny.edu/items/show/1753.