The painting above, by John Gast, dates from 1872. Here Colombia, a personification of the United States, leads civilization westward with American settlers. She holds a school book and she is stringing telegraph wire as she sweeps west. The different stages of the pioneers are highlighted and, especially, the changing forms of transportation. Native Americans and animals flee in terror. Note that Colombia is bringing light, as witnessed on the eastern side of the painting as she travels towards the darkened westward side.
(The text is adapted from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manifest_destiny. The photo of the painting is from http://japanfocus.org/-Bruce-Cumings/3687. The image of the dancer is a frame captured from an Apple ipod video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jwq12bL_GPQ.)