The American frontiersman expressed his individualism by seeking an untrod path into the wilderness for a new home. Yet the pioneers' individualism and adaptability did not preclude their willingness to call upon the government for practical help in solving problems of migration and transportation. When projects, because of size or financial outlay, were beyond the means of private enterprise or the collective action of a western community, the resources and sponsorship of the national government were unhesitatingly demanded. Local groups constantly besieged Congress with requests for roads and other internal improvements. In the process localism was broken down, and a great desire to expand national power soon permeated most western communities. The pioneer became a nationalist as well as an individualist.
W. Turrentine Jackson, Wagon Roads West: A Study of Federal Road Surveys and Construction in the Trans-Mississippi West (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1952) 319.
[Photo: University of California-Davis]