What Shall be the Character of this Vast Western Territory?: National Expansion, Imperial Ideology, and the Utah Expedition, 1857-1858

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Argument

This project investigates and analyzes public rhetoric concerning Utah affairs in the mid-1850s. Through its efforts in the Utah Expedition, the United States government moved to control the West in the name of republicanism, progress, and expansion. Overall, the Utah Expedition reveals an intersting layer in domestic policy that often remains unconsidered in historical scholarship of the United States during the turbulent 1850s. The overview introduces readers to the Utah Expedition by providing historiographical background and suggesting how this scholarly argument fits into that discussion. The overview also describes how new media tools have informed the research and analysis of the public discourse. The argument section is broken down into four sections: the Mormon Question, issues relating to popular sovereignty, power and control in the emerging American West, and finally the political and cultural occupation of Mormon Utah by the United States through the military expedition and introduction of a more significant non-Mormon population into the Territory.

Visualizations

The dynamic timeline provides a time-based map for users to gain a point of access to, query, and interact with coverage of public rhetoric.

Word clouds provide users a tool for inquiry into the textual nature of the sources. Another text-analysis visualization illustrates key words in context. To interact with this tool to visualize and analyze keywords in context, keyword highlights, and word clouds visit this project's instance of TokenX here; choose a file to search and analyze based on your own volition.

An interactive interface in the bibliography allows one to investigate, analyze, and query citation data. Finally, one can view illustrations and political cartoons from contemporary periodicals at the image gallery.

Documents

Newspaper and periodical articles and related official government documents comprise the source base for this project. These documents illustrate the pulse of the country and the public fascination with Mormon misconduct, which had a tremendous impact on public opinion. All documents have been made digital through transcription and encoding allowing users to read about an interesting event in national political and cultural history from different perspectives. The source documents are accessible at several entry points in the project. The digital source base will continue to grow as this project develops.






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2008-2010 Brent M. Rogers, University of Nebraska—Lincoln