Sorting Fact from Fiction As with all mythology, there are elements of truth in this epic narrative, but also a great deal of fiction. The real story of the West is more complex––in ways less heroic, but in others more rich. In places, the romantic narrative is simply wrong. For example, the homesteader may have been hardworking and even risk-taking, but he received a huge assist in his adventures from the federal government, which first provided the land and then furthered his efforts by the building of railroads and colleges, subsidizing irrigation and forestation projects, and pacifying the Indians who challenged his claims to the land. (You can read about this here .) In other places, the narrative is curiously ironic. For example, while the West was immediately celebrated as a "man's country," the western territories and states were the first to grant women the right to vote. Perhaps even more ironic, the rather prosaic facts behind these developments were soon replaced by narratives of pathbreaking heroines. (You can read about this here
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