Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in History (PhD)

Degree Level





Beth Schweiger

Committee Member

Leo Mazow

Second Committee Member

Elliott West


Arkansas, Art, Cherokees, Indians, Settlers, Slavery


In 1859, Arkansas artist Edward Payson Washbourne produced a lithograph entitled the Arkansas Traveler. Based upon a popular folktale originating twenty years earlier, Washbourne used the image to convey his understanding of the crisis over slavery in the western territories. Artists in north and south responded to the slavery debate with differing visions of the western landscape; one characterized by free labor, the other slave. Westward expansion also highlighted debate about Indians, long relegated to the role of the savage other by the myth of the frontier. Yet, on the southern frontier, the conversation was different, as slaveholding Cherokees claimed to be more civilized than the barbaric white settlers. In the Arkansas Traveler, Washbourne, influenced by his missionary father and his Cherokee contemporaries, presented slaveholders as civilized and those whites who opposed the expansion of slavery as barbaric. For Washbourne, as for the progressive Cherokees, the solution to the problem of slavery was to educate these anti-slavery barbarians in the ways of the civilized south. Thus, the Arkansas Traveler reveals the role of art in communicating the complexity of ideology on the southern frontier on the eve of Civil War.