Exploration and Empire
The Explorer and the Scientist in the Winning of the American West
Western History - Military History
6 x 9, 702 pp.
50 b&w illus. 22 maps.
Pub Date: 09/01/1993
Fred H. and Ella Mae Moore Texas History Reprint Series
Price:        $29.95


Published by Texas State Historical Assn

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Winner of the Pulitzer Prize in History, 1967

Exploration and Empire

The Explorer and the Scientist in the Winning of the American West

By William Goetzmann

In this classic work, Goetzmann argues that the exploration of the American West was not a series of haphazard adventures motivated by personal gain, but rather a series of carefully planned missions to promote the national good. He draws on the diaries and letters of explorers to contrast the early American expeditions, sponsored by the federal government to promote national development, with private British ventures, such as the Hudson’s Bay Company, which sought commercial gain.

Meriwether Lewis and William Clark were the first explorers with a broad and explicit sense of national purpose, setting out in 1804 with instructions from President Thomas Jefferson to collect information “covering the whole range of natural history from geology to Indian vocabularies.” And as Lewis and Clark traveled toward the American Northwest, William Dunbar and Dr. George Hunter journeyed south to collect information on the newly acquired Louisiana Territory.

Two major eras of Western exploration followed the one launched by Lewis and Clark: the period of settlement and investment (1845–1860) and the era of the great surveys (1860–1900). During the first of these, explorers such as John B. Weller and John Russell Bartlett became political diplomats as well as discoverers as they surveyed the boundary between the U.S. and Mexico. During the second period, explorers were no longer discoverers or diplomats, but academic scientists, such as Josiah Dwight Whitney, whose philosophy influenced twentieth-century attitudes toward conservation and the environment.

WILLIAM H. GOETZMANN in the Jack S. Blanton, Sr., Professor of History at the University of Texas at Austin and a Fellow of the Texas State Historical Association. He is the author of many books and articles, including Army Exploration in the American West, which is also published by the TSHA.

What Readers Are Saying:

“This work can be described as monumental. The author has established his reputation as one of the greatest scholars of the American West of his generation.” --Southwestern Historical Quarterly

“A feat of discovery as notable in its own way as were some of the physical excursions into the West that Goetzmann describes so well.” --New York Times Book Review


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