• Twilight in the Wilderness (detail), 1860. Frederic Edwin Church. Oil on canvas; 40 x 64 in. Mr. and Mrs Williams H Marlatt Fund 1965.233

America Expanding, 1801-1861

Grade Level: 
Student Level: 
High School

By examining American art and artifacts from the museum's collection, this series promotes discussion of America's national character and heritage. All five lessons, developed by teams of teachers, are accompanied by reinforcement materials specifically designed to foster critical thinking skills. These programs may be scheduled individually.

America Expanding, the second lesson in this series, covers 1801-1861 and explores frontier life, the results and impact of westward expansion, landscape painting, Jacksonian democracy, and genre art.

Program Format: 
  • Introduce major themes of the lesson.
  • Discuss differing perspectives on land use in the early 19th century, using landscape paintings from the museum which illustrate themes such as Manifest Destiny and Romanticism.
  • Compare Native American objects with settler's objects as reflections of differing values during this time period.
  • Interactivity about what our possessions say about us.
  • Review and compare: genre, Romanticism, perspective.
  • Students will understand the challenges and results of westward expansion in the United States during the first half of the 19th century.
  • Students will understand art's role as a reflection of American values, identity, and political culture in the first half of the 19th century.