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The Manifest Destiny and Westward Expansion: Analytical Essay

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Question 9: (10/7/19):

John Gast’s 1872 painting “The Manifest Destiny” was used to entice Euro-American settlers to move westward in the Americas. What activities did the painting suggest settlers should pursue in these western lands? How were Native Americans portrayed and impacted by the Manifest Destiny.

John Gast’s 1872 painting titled “American Progress” is an allegory for Manifest Destiny and the modernization of the new westward expansion by the United States. A woman named Progress is the main image in the picture who is shown leading the settlers from the east and moving civilization westward. The woman is wearing a star on her head, resembling an angel and conveying the idea that American westward expansion is their duty given by God. The woman is leading the settlers and protecting them as they expand. In the painting, the east is shown in lightness and the west is a resemblance of darkness. As they move toward the west, they are showing that they will be bringing the light with them into the dark west. In the image, the light symbolizes the civilized east and the dark represents the non-civilized west. The depicted darkness of the west is conveying the idea that the west is uncivilized and a wild place that is in need of modern advancements. The east is shown as being the opposite of the west. The east is civilized, well-educated and advanced in technology. The main focus of the image is the women in the center of the painting who is a representation of bringing the light from the east and moving it westward with the settlers. The woman is holding a school textbook in her arms, showing that she will gain knowledge by settling in the west. She is also holding a piece of a telegraph in her hand, symbolizing that they are bringing technological advancements with them into the dark west. In the image, some of the things depicted such as railroads, telephone wires, log cabins, and fences represent modernization and advancement of the new west. All of these things suggest that settlers should pursue them in order to gain light and prosperity. As the women progresses toward the west, she is bringing the light with her. Many of them include developments that require wood to build which will further lead to the over-use of forest resources. The Native Americans in this photo are seen retreating away from the Settlers and the woman, Progress, and they are covered in the darkness which suggests badness and evil. John Gast portrayed the Native American way of life as outdated and suggested American settlers should conquer it. They were negatively impacted by the Manifest Destiny because as settlers were encouraged to expand west and build and conquer new lands, those lands were taken away from the Native Americans. The idea of Manifest Destiny was used to remove the Native Americans from their native homelands. The Americans believed that the Native Americans were not utilizing their land and ultimately leaving it to waste. The Native Americans were left stripped of their land, as the American settlers expanded westward and settled into their land. Overall, this image was created to portray the religious belief that the United States should expand from the east to the west because of the calling from God.

The Manifest Destiny had a significant impact on the country as a whole. It created America’s great expansion into the west and opened up so many opportunities for growth and advancements for the Americans. This civilized movement helped fuel western settlement and removed many Native Americans out of America. Manifest Destiny inspired American settlers to make the move to the west and explore new land. The west contained an abundance of land, as well as a fresh start and new markets. After the big westward expansion, the discovery of gold sparked, bringing even more people from the east into the west. Overall, Manifest Destiny was a huge success for the Americans. The movement brought an immense amount of money, a strengthened economy, new markets, resources and land. With all the positives and successes of Manifest Destiny came some negative outcomes as well. The act of moving westward and settling in the West caused American settlers to disregard the territorial rights of the Native Americans, which resulted in tensions, wars and a cultural divide (Murphy, 2014). This westward expansion by the Americans caused the Native Americans to be wiped away from their land. Manifest Destiny caused American settlers to feel greedy, powerful, prideful and strong. Although this movement was very successful for Americans, it caused much conflict with others and was followed by many wars.

Question #3: (10/21/19):

The knowledge to extract latex from the bark of a tree has been known for several thousand years. When and how did Maya figure out how to extract latex, why did they collect latex and what uses did they use it for? When did industrialized countries learn to use latex and what uses did, they have for it? Are the artificially produced latex products made today comparable in quality to what can be produced from latex collected from a tree?

Forests provide an abundance of diversity of what is known as non-timber forest products. Non-timer forest products are defined as any material or product that grows in the forest, is not timer or a whole tree, and historically was locally consumed or worn. Non-timer forest products are typically found in the bark of the tree and are used to make many products and goods that we use all the time. The key idea of non-timer forest products is that you need intact forests to be able to collect them. Without non-timer forest products, we would have no food, spics, leather coats, insect repellants, medicines, pain killers, car tires, chewing game, etc. The world would be a boring place without the products of non-timer forest products because they are an important part of globalization and diversity. Knowledge of natural latex from the Hevea tree was passed onto the ancient Mayans in 1600 BCE. Latex from bark was produced as a defensive mechanism against predatory insects, rubber production and to make chewing gum. The Mayans used latex to play the ball game, which was very significant in Maya culture and society. The ball game was a ritual sacrifice that was believed to coincide with important dates in the Maya calendar. The rubber from the trees were turned into balls that were used for their ancient ball games. If you won the ball game, you would lose your head since you were the most worth sacrifice to the gods. Industrialized countries learned to use latex in the 1770s. In industrialized England, they discovered that the first samples of rubber were extremely good for rubbing off pencil marks on paper. Today, erasers are still called rubbers in England. The Para rubber tree, originally from Brazil, now occupies many parts of southeast Asia and provides countries with latex that they use to make tires, belts and gaskets. Latex from trees is also used to make chewing gum. The artificially produced latex products made today are not comparable in quality to what can be produced from latex collected from a tree. The latex collected from a tree is natural, whereas the artificially latex cannot be practicably manufactured. Without natural latex, there would be nothing to make airplane tires with because we cannot duplicate natural rubber qualities.

Another important non-timer forest product is medicines and poisons. Quinine is a commonly known medicine that is produced from the bark of a tree and is most effective for curing symptoms of malaria. Also, insect repellent from tree bark was commonly worn on the face by women and child as a natural sunscreen, repellant and moisturizer. Spices such as cinnamon, are produced from the inner bark of several trees. Cinnamon is used for flavoring, perfume in soaps and as a stimulant in medicine. Cork is another good that is collected from the bark of oak trees. Cork’s main function is to protect the tree from hot desert winds. Cork is peeled away from the tree trunk every 9-10 years. The Romans used cork to insulate houses and beehives, as soles for sandals, as stoppers for bottles, cigarette tips and flooring. Even humans have eaten bark! Bark of pine trees were used as an emergency food in Finland during famine and during the civil war in 1918. To eat bark, they would soften the inner bark and then heat it over the fire. The bark then was smashed and separated by using flour and was often made into rye bread. The use of non-timer forest products is very important for human survival and well-being. Non-timer forest products allowed people to survive off of products from tree bark. If you were out in the wild and suffered from an injury, you could use natural medicine for pain and swelling by finding the inner bark of a birch tree to reduce the injury. Non-timer forest products are very important to our biodiversity and in creating many day-today products, without them life would be very boring and difficult.

Question #2: (10/28/19):

Making a pot of clam chowder is a good analogy for how difficult it is to construct a functioning ecosystem. What was the take home message of Dan telling you this story?

In order to make clam chowder, you need to know the ingredients, the order, preparation time and how all of the ingredients fit together to make a good product. The take home message of the clam chowder analogy was that all the parts and the order in which you connect them to each other are important in ecosystems. Just by knowing the parts isn’t good enough. You need to know how all the parts of the ecosystem fit together and knowledge of how they interact in order to construct a functioning ecosystem. This analogy is a way to visualize the interconnectivity needed in order to have a functioning ecosystem.

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Forests are composed of structures and functions that are interconnected. Functions of forests are really important because they link or connect the structures. Big or small every part of the ecosystem is important to creating a functioning ecosystem. Small organisms such as bacteria, fungi and insects appear to be really small but are very important to forest ecosystems. Biodiversity is very important to humans and ecosystems because it is the ultimate interconnector. Species can link all other ecosystem components and create or maintain functions of ecosystems. Predator-prey, competition, mutualism and parasitism are all examples of species links to ecosystems. Predator-prey relationships are relationships where one partner benefits at the expense of the other. These relationships in ecosystems result in imbalances and can lead to population crashes, ecosystem degradation, human disease outbreaks and a shift to a different ecosystem type. Another species interaction is when partners may or not benefit, known as competition. Competition for resources can result in ecological changes in which one group of plant or animal species is replaced by another species due to the scarcity of resources. Population of animals change with changes in plant species. Mutualism is an interaction where both partners benefit. This type of specie interaction is the most common type of ecological interaction and is the most dominant in communities worldwide. The last specie interaction is parasitism. Parasitism is when the first partner benefits and the second partner doesn’t. If any of the connectivity in the ecosystem were to break down, the ecosystem would not be able to stay intact and function properly. Changes within or between ecosystems will change the entire harmony of the ecosystem. Every specie plays an important function in keeping the ecosystem intact. Interconnectivity in ecosystems are really important for the survival of species and to maintain ecosystem balance. If something is removed or imbalanced, that can result in damage and problem. Soil, sunlight, heat, water, plants, animals and all living organisms are a part of the ecosystem. Without one of these, the whole ecosystem will be disturbed and cause a severe imbalance.

Human behavior is a large reason why ecosystems are being disturbed and destroyed. By removing fish from the ocean, the whole food chain and ecosystem is disrupted. By humans disturbing wildlife, it causes many species to suffer from a lack of food. Also, deforestation is a huge problem that is causing many habitats to be destroyed. Humans are destroying forests and the home of many different species to use the land for other uses. Forests regulate our climate and water sources, causing deforestation to have many severe consequences on the ecosystem. This issue causes the loss of habitats for millions of species, causing groups of organisms to have to go extinct or relocate. We need to stop cutting down trees and need to educate people about the importance forests have on our ecosystem and environment (Aikaterini, 2017). That is why everyone should take a class about forests and society!

Question #4: (10/14/19):

If you want to live a healthy lifestyle, why would it help for you to know about the soils where your food is growing? Why is this statement correct – “The plant that you eat is only as good as the soil that it grew in”?

If soil isn’t healthy then the nutritious food cannot be grown on it because the produce steals all of the nutrients and the soil has nothing left. The unhealthy properties of the soil can affect the quality of the food being grown out of it because if soil has no nutrients than our food will have less nutrients. Also, when the soil isn’t healthy then they use fertilizer and pesticides which both contribute negatively to the environment and add the risk of chemicals on your food. When the food or plant is too processed it will lose additional nutrients.

Soil is so important to our ecosystem because our survival on earth needs soils to produce food. So how do we make soil? Soil is composed of dirt, organisms and organic matter. If the soil is not healthy, nutritious foods cannot be grown. We need to intensify our management of the soil in order to produce healthy, nutritious foods. Intensive agriculture is reliant on petroleum for fuel, fertilizer and as a synthetic pesticide. Organic matter is a very important ingredient in healthy soils. Organic matter holds soil particles together to resist erosion and it decomposes, releasing nutrients for plants. If organic matter is lost in soil, soil would lose water into water systems which can then affect fish and other aquatic organisms. Healthy soils are very important because we get most of our nutrients from soils. Humans are so reliant on soils, if we were to degrade a soil and turn it into dirt the civilization would collapse, and we would lose agricultural production. This would cause people to need to migrate to other location because they would not be able to feed the population. If there is no organisms and organic matter in soil, then the crops are very poor and lack nutritious benefits.

The foundation of life is ultimately soil. Soil provides nutrients, water, oxygen and support to roots. Soils provide us everything we need to survive and serve a very important purpose in our ecosystem. The health and quality of soils is an extremely important resource for human health and agriculture. Soil functions as a crucial nutrient source by taking in, storing and delivering water to plants. Soil is the foundation where all food-producing plants grow from (Honeyager, 2015). The health and quality of soil directly determines the health of people and animals as well. Soil is involved in food production, animal diversity and food quality. Nutrient-dense, high quality soils produce healthy plants. Healthy plants produce healthy foods. The health of soil plays a significant role in the health of humans. Humans should care about soil production because soil quality is linked to the quality of food we eat. It is all interconnected. The statement, “the plant that you eat is only as good as the soil that it grew in” is correct because the food and nutrients that we consume are derived from the soil. Soil stores water and delivers it to plants to make sure that plants are healthy and growing. Without soil, the ecosystem would severely suffer, and we would not be able to consume all the nutrients that we need to stay healthy.

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