Turner, Editor's Note: Please note, this is a short version of the essay subsequently published in Turner's essay collection, The Frontier in. The Frontier Thesis or Turner Thesis, is the argument advanced by historian Frederick Jackson The most important aspect of the frontier to Turner is its effect on democracy.
The frontier. However his ideas presented in his graduate seminars at Wisconsin and Harvard influenced many areas of historiography. In the. Furthermore, the search for a clearly delineated region with tangible features has led the New Historians to ignore an important aspect of the West, that is, the fact that it may also have intangible characteristics, such as an undisputed place in the American imagination.
Seen as "a state of mind", the West is no less significant, yet much more difficult to locate on a map. That is why historians like David Wrobel and Michael Steiner have recently called for a study of the "many Wests within the larger West" Wrobel and Steiner 11 , one that would go beyond both the old frontier paradigm and the fixed and rigid entity of New Western History. While Turner, in spite of his sweeping assertions and fuzzy definitions, wrote a national history, the New Historians limit the scope of their analyses to the westernmost part of the United States.
As a result, the new framework lacks the force and appeal of the old one. According to a critic, "by abandoning the idea of the frontier and making the West as place the center of [their] focus, [the New Western Historians have] drained away some of the drama of life on the edges where people and places meet" Weber, in Worster, Armitage, Malone, Weber, and Limerick , italics in the text.
The regionalism of the New Historians results in parochialism, and runs the risk of being regarded as irrelevant to American history at large. For instance, Western historians have paid more attention to colonialism over the last decade.
Redefining the "frontier" as " a meeting place of peoples in which geographic and cultural borders were not clearly defined", historians Jeremy Adelman and Stephen Aron associate the concept with that of "borderlands", in order to study "the variegated nature of European imperialism and of indigenous reactions to colonial encroachments" Adelman and Aron A ware of the provincialism of their history in an era of globalization, New Western Historians themselves have called for, in the words of Patricia Nelson Limerick, "comparative studies of processes of colonialism and imperialism, [to locate] the region in the big picture of world history" Limerick , 5.
Historians now analyse the way these groups met and interacted, and the complex situations that emerged as a result of their connections. Gregory Nobles, for instance, studies the frontier as "an area of interaction between two or more cultures in which neither culture is assumed to have an altogether superior position. From the colonial period, when empires and nations converged, met and clashed in the West, to the modern-day West, which remains, with its international boundaries, a crossroads of peoples, the region has always fed on these contacts, exchanges and interactions.
Therefore, through its emphasis on the notion of "convergence", the latest scholarship seems to give a more complete picture of the Western past, paying as much attention to the edges and zones of contact as to the center of the region. Besides, the openness suggested by the recent interpretations may be a way to bring the West back to relevance on the national stage.
Indeed, Turner was an American historian, who read the westward movement as the key explanation for American history. The New Historians, on the other hand, are Westerners, who focus on the Western region, cutting it off from the rest of the nation. Onuf eds. Norton and Company, Milner, II, and Charles Rankin eds. Nobles, Gregory H. Reeve trans. Langley, White, Richard, The Middle Ground. Malone, David J. Worster, Donald, Under Western Skies.
Wrobel, David M. Steiner, eds. Lamar, cited in Bernstein. Indians, Empires, and Republics in the Great Lakes Region, analyses how Europeans and Indians met in the region around the Great Lakes, and how their interactions, exchanges, and "creative misunderstandings" led to the birth of a new society White x. Caliban French Journal of English Studies. Contents - Previous document - Next document. Regional Identities in Question.
Outline Frederick Jackson Turner and the frontier thesis. This second frontier-which doubled the size of the nation-was acquired by purchase from Napoleon in The vast extent of land was not initially seen as farming land.
It was largely unknown and unmapped at the time of acquisition. It was seen by President Thomas Jefferson and others as an exotic land that was home to warlike Indians-particularly the Sioux. Jefferson hoped that a river passage could be found that would connect the eastern United States with the Pacific Ocean. Jefferson also hoped that trade relations could be established with the Indians, many of whom still continued to trade directly with the British in Canada.
The Lewis and Clark Expedition was organized soon after the Purchase to map and explore the wonders of this new frontier-and hopefully to find a river passage to the Pacific and hence to Asia.
5 quotes from Frederick Jackson Turner: 'That coarseness and strength combined with acuteness and inquisitiveness; that practical, inventive turn of mind, quick. The Frontier Thesis or Turner Thesis, is the argument advanced by historian Frederick Jackson .. This quote from Turner's The Frontier in American History is arguably the most famous statement of his work and, to later historians, the most.
Lewis and Clark reported that the Louisiana Purchase was a tough, rugged land. The Indians, though helpful to Lewis and Clark, might not become trade partners. The most important discovery of the explorers was the knowledge that there was no river passage to the Pacific Coast. For purposes of national policy this second frontier would remain untouched and exotic until plans for a national railroad emerged in the s.
There has been a steady development of the industrial ideal, and a steady increase of the social tendency, in this later movement of Western democracy. Hoped-for gain was the magnet that attracted most migrants to the cheaper lands of the West, while once there they lived in units where co-operative enterprise—for protection against the Indians, for cabin-raising, law enforcement, and the like—was more essential than in the better established towns of the East. Here, environmental history and borderlands history take center stage. Its liberal tradition does not socialize. According to Turner the frontier had been the most important factor in shaping a distinctly American character and in differentiating America from Europe.
It was the land of the Noble Savage. Americans, and some Europeans, would come to see its exotic Indians.
It did, however, have one national purpose. The Indians in the first frontier weren't assimilating as Jefferson had planned.
There they could wait for a longer process of assimilation. This Permanent Indian Frontier was thus a frontier of banishment--not a place to banish undesirable whites, but undesirable or unassimilable natives. So the first frontier of hope was joined by a second frontier of mystery and banishment. This third frontier was acquired between and in several different ways. Oregon was peacefully acquired by treaty with England in , though there was some diplomatic "saber-rattling" in the negotiations.
The Republic of Texas was annexed in , though some say it was stolen from Mexico as Mexico had never recognized the independence of the Texas Republic. Some historians say they were effectively acquired by conquest. Others say that the lands were saved from Mexico and brought into the "temple of freedom" by Manifest Destiny.
So this third frontier became in many ways the most contradictory frontier. Historians at different times have picked liberally from the different frontiers and molded them to their fancy. There have been Turner then proceeded to explain the effect of this now closed area of open land on the nation for the preceding century. According to Turner the frontier had been the most important factor in shaping a distinctly American character and in differentiating America from Europe. The frontier took the settler with his European dress and manner and "stripped off the garments of civilization" The frontier was initially too strong for the man; eventually the man was able to transform the wilderness.
This American character that came from the frontier then became the trademark for the nation.