Full Caption: George A. Crofutt. American Progress. Chromolithograph, ca. 1873, after an 1872 painting by John Gast. Popular Graphic Arts Collection. Prints and Photographs Division. LC-USZC4-668. Full Caption: George A. Crofutt. American Progress. Chromolithograph, ca. 1873, after an 1872 painting by John Gast. Popular Graphic Arts Collection. Prints and Photographs Division. LC-USZC4-668.

“American Progress” is depicted as a light-haired woman, classically dressed, who is leading the Americans west. She guides and protects miners, farmers, covered wagons, railroads, and even a stage coach, displacing Indian families and the buffalo of the Great Plains. She is stringing the transcontinental telegraph cable wire with one hand and holds a book in the other. The concept of Manifest Destiny—the idea that American conquest of the west was a sign of progress, taking civilization and prosperity to unenlightened peoples—provided a rationalization to Americans who displaced the Indians and other people of color who had long lived in California and other parts of the country west of the Mississippi River.

see caption below