Publication Date

April 2012

Advisor(s)

Courtney Fullilove

Major

History (HIST)

Language

English (United States)

Abstract

This project examines the motivating beliefs of three settlers of the Great Plains at the end of the nineteenth century and relates their lives to the history of capitalism in the American West. Specifically, I show how their visions of personal redemption encompassed aspects of Protestant, Republican agrarian, and capitalist beliefs. While the industrial reality of West challenged Jefferson’s vision of a utopian garden, these settlers show how these three systems of belief became intertwined during the nineteenth century. However, by the end of the nineteenth century, the potential for balance between systems of belief became untenable, and capitalist individualism rose to the fore as the defining feature of the American West.

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