Cette phrase, Westward the course of Empire takes its way, est tirée du dernier quatrain du poème “Verses on the prospect of planting Arts and Learning in America”, composé en 1713 - in David S. Shields (dir.), American Poetry: The Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries, New York, The Library of America, 2007, p. 346:
“Westward the course of Empire takes its way ;
The four first acts already past
A fifth shall close the drama with the day:
Time’s noblest offspring is the last”.
John Milton, Paradise Lost, Livre Douzième, vers 646-49, New York-Londres, W. W. Norton & Company, 2005, p. 303 :
“The world was all before them, where to choose
Their place of rest, and Providence their guide.
They hand in hand with wand’ring steps and slow
Through Eden took their solitary way”.
“Jolliet’s Report to the Missions”, in Reuben Gold Thwaites (dir.), The Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents, Cleveland, Burrows Bros. Co., 1900 , LVIII, p. 105: “No better soil can be found either for corn, for vines, or for any other fruit whatever”.
Jean-Bernard Bossu, Travels through that Part of North America Formerly Called Louisiana, Londres, 1771, p. 61: “The soil is so fertile that, almost without cultivation, it produces European wheat and all kinds of fruits and vegetables which are unknown in France”.
Henry Nash Smith, Virgin Land: The American West as Symbol and Myth, Cambridge (Massachusetts) et Londres (Grande-Bretagne), Harvard University Press, 1978 , p. 128: “The perception that the West promised an indefinite expansion of a simple agricultural society became the most certain guarantee that the United States would for a long age maintain its republican institutions”.
Thomas Jefferson, lettre du 23 août 1785, adressée à John Jay, in Thomas Jefferson: Writings, New York, The Library of America, 1984, p. 818: “Cultivators of the earth are the most valuable citizens”.
Thomas Jefferson, lettre du 28 octobre 1785, adressée à James Madison, in op. cit., p. 842: “The small landholders are the most precious part of a state”.
Benjamin Franklin, Autobiography, Partie Trois, New York-Londres, W. W. Norton & Company, 1986, p. 102: “And indeed if it be the Desire of Providence to extirpate these Savages in order to make room for Cultivators of the Earth, it seems not improbable that Rum may be the appointed Means”.
Thomas Jefferson, lettre du 25 janvier 1786, adressée à Archibald Stuart, in op. cit., p. 844: “Our confederacy must be viewed as the nest from which all America, North & South is to be peopled”.
Thomas Jefferson, lettre du 15 mars 1784, adressée à George Washington, in op. cit., pp. 787-88: “All the world is becoming commercial. […] We must then in our defence endeavour to share as large a portion as we can of this modern source of wealth & power. […] But unfortunately the channel by the Hudson is already open & known in practice ; ours is still to be opened. This is the moment in which the trade of the West will begin to get into motion and to take it’s [sic] direction. It behoves us then to open our doors to it”.
Élise Marienstras, Les Mythes fondateurs de la nation américaine, Paris, François Maspero, « Textes à l’appui », 1976, p. 76.
Ezra Stiles, “The United States Elevated to Glory and Honor”, 1783, in Thomas G. Paterson et Dennis Merrill (dir.), Major Problems in American Foreign Relations, volume 1, Lexington (Massachusetts) et Toronto (Ontario), D.C. Heath and Company, 1995 , p. 9: “Our degree of population is such as to give us reason to expect that this will become a great people. […] Already has our colonization extended down the Ohio and to Koskaseah on the Mississippi. […] An accelerated multiplication will attend our general propagation and overspread the whole territory westward for ages”.
Jean de Crèvecœur, “What is an American?”, in Letters from an American Farmer, New York, Dover Publications, Inc., 2005, p. 148: “Many ages will not see the unknown bounds of North America entirely peopled. Who can tell how far it extends ? Who can tell the millions of men whom it will feed and contain ? For no European foot has as yet travelled half the extent of this mighty continent ! […] Americans are the western pilgrims who are carrying along with them that great mass of arts, sciences, vigor, and industry, which began long since in the east ; they will finish the great circle”.
Philip Freneau, “On the Civilization of the Western Aboriginal Country”, in John Hollander (dir.), American Poetry: The Nineteenth Century, volume 1, New York, The Library of America, 1993, pp. 1-3:
“Nature herself, assumes a difference face. […]
Take all, through all, through nation, tribe, or clan,
The child of Nature is the better man”.
Timothy Dwight, “America: or, a Poem on the Settlement of the British colonies”, New Haven, Thomas and Samuel Green, 1780:
“Hail Land of light and joy ! Thy power shall grow
Far as the seas, which round thy regions flow ;
Through earth’s wide realms thy glory shall extend,
And savage nations at thy scepter bend.
Around the frozen shores thy sons shall sail
Or stretch their canvas to the Asian gale”.
James Madison, alias Publius, The Federalist Papers, numéro 38, Londres, Penguin Books, 1987, p. 253: “We may calculate, therefore, that a rich and fertile country of an area equal to the inhabited extent of the United States will soon become a national stock. […] Congress have undertaken to do more : they have proceeded to form new States. […] All this has been done ; and done without the least color of constitutional authority. Yet no blame has been whispered ; no alarm has been sounded. A great and independent fund of revenue is passing into the hands of a single body of men”.
Thomas Jefferson, instructions officielles au capitaine Meriwether Lewis, datées du 20 juin 1803, in op. cit., p. 1128 :
“Other object worthy of notice will be
the soil & face of the country, it’s growth & vegetable productions ; especially those not of the U. S.
the animals of the country generally, & especially those not known in the U. S.
the remains and accounts of any which may be deemed rare or extinct ;
the mineral productions of every kind ; but more particularly metals, limestone, pit coal & saltpetre ; salines & mineral waters, noting the temperature of the last, & such circumstances as may indicate their character”.
Entrée du 7 novembre 1805, rédigée par William Clark, in Bernard DeVoto (dir.), The Journals of Lewis and Clark, New York, Mariner Books, The Houghton Mifflin Company, 1997 , p. 279: “Great joy in camp we are in view of the Ocean, this great Pacific Ocean which we been so long anxious to See”.
Philip Freneau, “On the Great Western Canal of the State of New York”, in op. cit., p. 4:
“A new Republic in the West
(A great example to the rest)
Can seas unite, and here will shew
What Freedom’s nervous sons can do”.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Evangeline, Partie Deux, IV, vers 1-4, in John Hollander, op. cit., p. 395:
“Far in the West there lies a desert land, where the mountains
Lift, through perpetual snows, their lofty and luminous summits.
[…] the gorge, like a gateway,
Opens a passage rude to the wheels of the emigrant’s wagon”.
Walt Whitman, “Passage to India”, vers 16-21, in Leaves of Grass, in Walt Whitman: The Complete Poems, Londres, Penguin Books, 2004 , p. 428:
“Passage O soul to India !Haut de page
Eclaircise the myths Asiatic, the primitive fables.
Not you alone proud truths of the world,
Nor you alone ye facts of modern science,
But myths and fables of eld, Asia’s, Africa’s fables,
The far-darting beams of the spirit, the unloos’d dreams”.