At the conclusion of the U.S.-Mexican War in 1848, the United States gained the majority of the territory we now call the American West. Americans were introduced to this territory through images produced by artists appended to government-sponsored surveys. Although they may appear to be nothing more than anodyne landscapes, these images were fundamentally inflected by political bias as their artists took sides in the conflict over extending slavery into the West that precipitated the Civil War. Alexis Monroe is a PhD candidate and Willner Family Fellow at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University specializing in the art, literature, and history of the 19th century American West. Her research has been supported by the Amon Carter Museum of American Art, the John Carter Brown Library at Brown University, the Library Company of Philadelphia, and the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Her article on the historiographic significance of the completion of the transcontinental railroad is forthcoming in this fall’s issue of American Art.