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The West

The West

Reading Quizzes

Available to teachers only as part of theTeaching the WestTeacher Pass

Teaching the WestTeacher Pass includes:

  • Assignments & Activities
  • Reading Quizzes
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  • Discussion & Essay Questions
  • Challenges & Opportunities
  • Related Readings in Literature & History

Sample of Reading Quizzes

Big Picture


1. What are some of the elements of the romantic narrative of the West?
2. Why did Frederick Jackson Turner argue that the frontier was the source of America’s democratic values?
3. How is the “romantic narrative” wrong about the independent homesteader?
4. What were the attitudes of western third parties towards the federal government?

5. Why have the distinctive qualities of the frontier and the West diminished?


1. The pioneer, the homesteader, the cowboy; the battles of man versus nature, rancher versus farmer, cowboy versus Indian; the land itself – its beauty, its distance, the far-reaching space.

2. He believed that Americans learned self-sufficiency and individualism by living on the frontier, which led to being better participants in democracy.
3. Instead of being a rugged individualist, a homesteader was actually quite dependent on his government, who provided the land (people who disliked the implication of government-funded land, like Laura Ingalls Wilder, preferred to characterize it as “a gamble” they were taking against the government), built railroads and higher education, subsidizing irrigation projects, and fighting the Indians.

4. They wanted more federal regulation, specifically to protect against capitalism.

5. Due to conservationists, not all areas of the West could be settled fully: also, many of the virtues of Western life were incorporated into all Americans’ lives.