So a good friend of mine, John Hill, is a graduate History student at City College and asked me to read this article. So, I wanted this post to serve as a response to him but to also summarize and extrapolate certain quotes and ideas that seem integral to Baigell's article.
What Baigell is looking at exclusively is, as the subtitle suggests, "Images of Manifest Destiny". The first two works Baigell examines are a Charles Wimar, Attack on an Emigrant Train (1856), and, The Emigrants (1900), by Frederic Remington. What's remarkable about both of these paintings is that the progress of the settlers or emigrants is literally blocked by gangs of roving, evil native Americans.
It is as if they are literally standing in the way of the upright, righteous, civil settler who is marching through "[their] backyard" (5). Baigell affirms, "in an Orwellian inversion of images, if not language, the native Americans are shown as marauders, and the whites, the real plunderers who are seizing their lands, are portrayed as defenders. Wimar and Remington painted a kind of visual doubletalk by reversing the roles of defenders and aggressors." (5)
Baigell even delves into the history of the phrase, informing his readers of the life and times of John O Sullivan. For example, if it were up to O'Sullivan, "possession of the entire continent, from Panama to the North Pole" (6) would have been our true gauge and we might have even gone to war with Canada (yet again) to steal a little land from them as well. What I hadn't remembered is what a catalyst the Mexican American War had been for the U.S. and how it polarized many popular sentiments about "outsiders"
In fact, Baigell, corresponds the Wimar painting, The Emigrants, with our increasing imperialist acquisitions due to the Spanish American War. It seems like common sense but I had never though that the two largest pushes (in terms of acquisition of lands) came during the time of our two notable might is right showings in the 19th Century.
A Spanglish blog dedicated to the works, ruminations, and mongrel pyrotechnics of Yago S. Cura, an Argentine-American poet, translator, publisher & futbol cretin. Yago publishes Hinchas de Poesia, an online literary journal, & is the sole proprietor of Hinchas Press.