Missouri Historical Society, St. Louis
"This Magnificent New World":
Thomas Hart Benton's
Westward Vision Reconsidered
BY JOHN D. MORTON*
"The mind dwells with pleasure upon such a revolution," wrote St. Louis
Enquirer editor Thomas Hart Benton in October 1819, "one which would . . .
give to the Republic her day of pre-eminence among the nations of the earth."
The "revolution" that Benton envisioned was a commercial one, and he
believed it would occur once the United States opened a trade route to Asia
via the Pacific Ocean and the Columbia and Missouri Rivers. A precursor to
*John D. Morton is a Ph.D. candidate in American history at the University of Virginia,
Charlottesville. He received the B.A. degree from Williams College, Williamstown,
Massachusetts, and the M.A. degree from the University of Virginia.