In 1984, colonial historian James Henretta even stated, “[f]or, in our role as scholars, we must recognize that the subject of westward expansion in itself longer engages the attention of many perhaps most, historians of the United States.” (Legacy of Conquest, Patricia Limerick, p.
21.) Turner’s thesis had effectively shaped popular opinion and historical scholarship of the American West, but the thesis slowed continued academic interest in the field.
Issues that not only challenged the Victorian moral authority but threatened America’s moral standing.
Unlike Turner, the missionary women did not believe that the West was an engine for democracy; instead, they envisioned a place where immoral practice such as polygamy, prostitution, premarital pregnancy, and religious superstition thrived and threatened women’s moral authority.
While these new works are not easy to categorize, they do fit into some loose categories: gender (Relations of Rescue by Peggy Pascoe), ethnicity (The Roots of Dependency by Richard White, and Lewis and Clark Among the Indians by James P.
Rhonda), immigration (Impossible Subjects by Ming Ngai), and environmental (Nature’s Metropolis by William Cronon, Rivers of Empire by Donald Worster) history.
xvii.) Pascoe used a study of intercultural relations between women to better understand each of the sub-cultures (missionaries, unmarried mothers, Chinese prostitutes, Mormon women, and Sioux women) and their relations with governmental authorities and men.
Unlike Limerick, Pascoe did not find it necessary to define the west or the frontier.
Unfortunately, the history of the American West became the history of westward expansion and the history of the region of the American West was disregarded.
The grand tapestry of western history was essentially ignored.