Comps Notes: Frederick Jackson Turner’s “The Significance of the Frontier in American History”

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Kennedy in the early s explicitly called upon the ideas of the frontier. Turner took this "closing of the frontier" as an opportunity to reflect upon the influence it had exercised. But in a sense, the very acrimony of these debates takes us full circle back to Turner and his legacy, for debates about the significance of Western history are hardly ever confined to the past.


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The Birth of the American Century. Turner moved to the Huntington Library in San Marino, Californiawhere he remained as senior research associate until his death. If we can reach and cross this frontier, our generations will have furnished a significant milestone in human history.

The Significance of the Frontier in American History - Wikipedia

The thesis shares his views on how the idea of the frontier shaped the American being and characteristics. Turner held that the American character was decisively shaped by conditions on the frontier, in particular the abundance of free land, the settling of which engendered such traits as self-reliance, individualisminventiveness, restless energy, mobility, materialism, and optimism.

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Turner reflects on the past to illustrate his point by noting human fascination with the frontier and how expansion to the American West changed people's views on their culture. The Nation and Its Sectionswould not be published until after his death.

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Turner offered his frontier thesis as both an analysis of the past and a warning about the future. Turner began his teaching career at the University of Wisconsin in The Unbroken Past of the American West. Poor health forced his early retirement from Harvard in Adams, his mentor at Johns Hopkinshad argued that all significant American institutions derived from German and English antecedents.

  • However, the work of historians during the s—s, some of whom sought to bury Turner's conception of the frontier, and others who sought to spare the concept but with nuance, have done much to place Western myths in context.
  • My call is to the young in heart, regardless of age—to the stout in spirit, regardless of party.
  • Moreover, these revisionist scholars argue, for many places the West has not been the land of freedom and opportunity that both Turnerian history and popular mythology would have us believe.

He elaborates by stating, Behind institutions, behind constitutional forms and modifications, lie the vital forces that call these organs into life and shape them to meet changing conditions. His thesis "The Significance of the Frontier in American History" mournfully proclaimed that the once vast American western frontier was closed.

Frontier Thesis - Wikipedia

Frederick Jackson Turner 's "The Significance of the Frontier in American History" is arguably one of the most influential interpretations of the American past ever espoused. A Study in Historical Creativity.

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Chandler, Jr. If the frontier had been so essential to the development of American culture and democracy, then what would befall them as the frontier closed?

Frontier Thesis, Turner's | The Genesis of the Frontier Thesis: For a scholar of such wide influence, Turner wrote relatively few books.

Nonetheless, the Turner thesis remained a popular albeit widely debated assessment of American development. Delivered in Chicago before two hundred historians at the World's Columbian Exposition, a celebration of the four hundredth anniversary of Columbus's discovery of America, Turner's thesis discounted the then-dominant "germ theory" of American history, which argued that American political and social character evolved directly from European antecedents.

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Although he respected Turner, Pierson strongly argues his point by looking beyond the frontier and acknowledging other factors in American development. The tensions between small churches as a result of this fight, Turner states, exist today because of the religious attempt to master the West and those effects are worth further study.

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Other historians, who wanted to focus scholarship on minorities, especially Native Americans and Hispanics, started thesis first aid the s to criticize the frontier thesis because it did not attempt to explain the evolution of those groups. How much do Puritan New England and the California descriptions creative writing the transcontinental railroad really have in common? For a scholar of such wide influence, Turner wrote relatively few books.

He traced the social evolution of frontier life as it continually developed across the frontier thesis us history from the primitive conditions experienced by the explorer, trapper, and trader, through maturing agricultural stages, finally reaching the complexity of city and factory.

Limerick, Patricia Nelson, Clyde A. Turner's thesis quickly became popular among intellectuals.

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Moreover, these revisionist scholars argue, for many places the West has not been the land of freedom and opportunity that both Turnerian history and popular mythology would have us believe. Frederick Jackson Turner "The existence of an area of free land, its continuous recession, and the advance of American settlement westward explain American development.

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Limerick pushes for a continuation of study within the historical and social atmosphere of the American Westwhich she believes did not end inbut rather continues on to this very day. Secondly, his story only accounts for those that chose an agrarian occupation, ignoring other industries such as mining.

William Appleman Williams led the "Wisconsin School" of diplomatic historians by arguing that the frontier thesis encouraged American overseas expansion, especially in Asia, during the 20th century.

Frontier Thesis

Every generation moved critical thinking tool kit west and became more American, more democratic, and more intolerant of hierarchy. Cooperation and communities of various sorts, not isolated individuals, made possible the absorption of the West into the United States. New York, He sounded an alarming note, speculating as to what this business plan slides sample for the continued dynamism of American society as the source of U.