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Frontier Rhetoric and 20th Century Presidents - Essay Example

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Frontier Rhetoric and 20th Century Presidents

The towering figure in the American myth is the frontiersman making his way out west with little but a few dollars in his pocket, a rifle and the hope for a better life. That better life has been achieved for his ancestors, but at the cost of genocide of those who stood in his way. Nevertheless, the frontiersman-and especially the iconic image of the cowboy-is the ultimate embodiment of the American myth and and so it should come as little surprise that farther we move away from the reality of that time, the more Americas leaders co-opt the romantic imagery associated with the westward expansion.
The central determining term to suggest that Americans had not only the right, but the moral imperative to run roughshod over the native peoples of the west was the idea of Manifest Destiny. John L. O'Sullivan is credited with coining this phrase as well as defining the concept. O'Sullivan was the editor of the Democratic Review and took advantage of every opportunity to establish the proposal that American conquest of the continent was inevitable and necessary. O'Sullivan was convinced of the greatness of America and saw the enormous bounty of untrammeled land in th west as the key to creating everlasting prosperity (Weinberg, 1935, p. 62). It is a vital component to undertanding the full effect of the use of frontier imagery among 20th century Presidents to fully acknowledge and apprehend how Manifest Destiny played a part in the shaping of the western myth, as well as how that myth continues to be played out today.
The country included in its desires for westward expansion those areas owned by Mexico. Texas had affirmed its independence in 1836, but war was on the horizon and it is not by accident that some of the most iconic images of the frontier came from that war. Davy Crockett was perhaps the most famous victim of the siege of the Alamo, and his mythical rise to pre-eminent status reminds one of the manipulation of image by political handlers today. The primary difference between contemporary politicians who pose for photos in a cowboy hat and boots, however, is that Dave Crockett a politician who really did live the life of frontiersman, although probably not nearly to the degree with which it was reported even in his lifetime.
Crockett's wild stories and often bawdy homespun humor amuse and fascinated reporters who helped to turn him into a mythic character in his own time. More than a few of the tales about Crockett were obviously embellished. But does spreading the story that Crocket was such a fearsome hunter that when he aimed his rifle at a racccon he has successfully trapped in a tree climbe down really any more of a explicit lie than the stories that later be published as fact concerning Teddy Roosevelt heroically riding his steed up San Juan Hill The evolution of David Crockett from redneck Congressman to mythical American icon actually was initiated while Crockett was still alive, but in the decades since his death he has been elevated into the very personification of the American frontiersman, almost single-handedly hacking his way across rugged terrain to spread the ideals of America (Andrew, 1987, p. xiii). In essence, Dave Crockett the legend is also the personification of Manifest Destiny. Despite losing his life at the Alamo, the war was eventually won and Americans pushed their way incessantly across the continent, finally arriving at the deep blue waters of the Pacific ...Show more


Political power comes with a dual edged sword. With one hand a leader can make lives better for the masses and with the other he can the mortal coil that connects them to mortality. Very often the sword is required on one side to fill the empty bellies on the other…
Author : lrunolfsson
Frontier Rhetoric and 20th Century Presidents essay example
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