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Across the Continent: 'Westward the Course of Empire' Takes Its Way"

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A broad expanse of open green acreage, a train carting immigrants safely through the mountains, and a clean, bustling town are some of the motifs that show up repeatedly in Currier and Ives' prints and that echo the cry throughout the country to go west. Here, a passenger Train is about to leave the settlements and log Cabins of the Early US to enter the Great Plains and the Rockies in the Distance. The print, "Across the Continent: 'Westward the Course of Empire Takes Its Way'" was titled after an 1861 painting by Emanuel Leutze. The painting and its copycat print were meant to illustrate and encourage what John L. Sullivan in 1845 called "the fulfillment of our manifest destiny. In "Across the Continent," not only do telegraph and rail lines, mountains, and the wagon trail all lead infinitely westward, but Currier and Ives also separate Western progress and its rectilinear shapes from the organic, doomed Native American world it would destroy"pread the continent allotted by Providence for the free development of our yearly multiplying millions.