The United States Expands Westward, the first part of the exhibition, on display until November 2019, begins at the end of the 18th century with Euro-American settlers exploring and surveying lands inhabited by Native peoples as well as French and Spanish inhabitants. These American settlers rapidly expanded onto the land west of the Appalachians, reshaping the physical, cultural, and political landscape. The settlers took over trails trodden by native peoples and added canals, roads, and ultimately railroads as they developed an integrated transportation network in the eastern half of the nation. Exploiting land and mineral resources, they started to build a capitalist economy based on agriculture, mining, and industry. This part of the story concludes in the early 1860s with the Civil War and the passing of the Homestead Act and the authorization of the first transcontinental railroad, all of which had a major impact on the transformation of the nation’s physical and cultural landscape.
Part II will be on display November 2019-May 2020.