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Frederick Jackson Turner. Frederick Jackson Turner, The Significance of the Frontier in American History (1873)

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Frederick Jackson Turner, The Significance of the Frontier in American History (1873)

AMERICAN HISTORY IN A LARGE DEGREE HAS BEEN A HISTORY OF THE COLONIZATION OF THE WEST. Up to our own day American history has been in a large degree the history of the colonization of the Great West. The existence of an area of free land, its continuous recession, and the advance of American settlement westward, explain American development. p. 76.

THE FRONTIER HAS SHAPED THE AMERICAN CHARACTER: American social development has been continually beginning over again on the frontier. This perennial, this fluidity of American life, this expansion westward-with its few opportunities, its continuous touch with the simplicity of primitive society, furnish the forces dominating American character. The true point of view in the history of this nation is not the Atlantic coast, it is the Great West. p. 76.

The frontier is the line of most rapid and effective Americanization. p. 77.

The frontier individualism has from the beginning promoted democracy. p. 83.

THE FRONTIER WAS THE CRUCIBLE OF AMERICANIZATION. In the crucible of the frontier the immigrants were Americanized, liberated, and fused into a mixed race, English in neither nationality nor characteristics. p. 82.


Frederick Jackson Turner, The Significance of the Frontier in American History (1873)

THE AMERICAN FRONTIER HAS HELPED US UNITE AS A COUNTRY.

The effect of the Indian fronteir as a consolidating agent in our history is important.

The Indian was a common danger, demanding united action. p. 80

THE AMERICAN FRONTIER HAS CULTIVATED AMERICAN NATIONALISM.

Nothing works for nationalism like intercourse within the nation. Mobility of population is death to localism, and the western frontier worked irresistibly in unsettling population. p. 83.


THE AMERICAN INTELLECT OWES ITS STRIKING CHARACTERISTICS TO THE FRONTIER.

The result is that to the frontier the American intellect owes its striking characteristics. That coarseness and strength combined with acuteness and inquisitiveness; that practical, inventive turn of mind, quick to find expedients; that masterful grasp of material things, lacking in the artistic but powerful to effect great ends; that restless, nervous energy; that dominant individualism, working for good and for evil, and withal that buoyancy and exuberance which comes with freedom--these are traits of the frontier, or traits called out elsewhere because of the existence of the frontier. Since the days when the fleet of Columbus sailed into the waters of the New World, America has been another name for opportunity, and the people of the United States have taken their tone from the incessant expansion which has not only been open but has even been forced upon them. p. 85.


THE FRONTIER IS GONE. THE FRONTIER.

And now, four centuries from the discovery of America, at the end of a hundred years of life under the Constitution, the frontier has gone, and with its going has closed the first period of American history. p. 85.

He would be a rash prophet who should assert that the expansive character of American life has now entirely ceased. Movement has been its dominant fact, and, unless this training has no effect upon a people, the American energy will continually demand a wider field for its exercise. But never again will such gifts of free land offer themselves. p. 85.


Cowboys eating dinner on the range. A typical chuckwagon, like the one shown here, carried potatoes, beans, bacon, dried fruit, cornmeal, coffee and canned goods.

(Library of Congress)




Exodusters waiting for a steamboat to carry them westward in the late 1870's.

(Library of Congress.)


Homesteader Omer Yern and family photographed by Solomon Butcher in Custer Country, Nebraska, 1886. (Courtesy Nebraska State Historical Society.)


David Hilton and family pose for homestead photographer Solomon Butcher, showing off their prize possession, a pump organ. Butcher noted that Mrs. Hilton insisted on having the organ hauled into the yard, so her family portrait would not reveal that the Hilton's still lived in a sod house.


Cover of Solomon Butcher, showing off their prize possession, a pump organ. Butcher noted that Mrs. Hilton insisted on having the organ hauled into the yard, so her family portrait would not reveal that the Hilton's still lived in a sod house.The Beef Bonanza: How to Get Rich on the Plains, by Gen. James. S. Brisbin, one of the books that helped fuel the cattle boom of the early 1880's.

(Courtesy Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University.)


Rath & Wright's buffalo hide yard, showing 40,000 buffalo hides baled for shipment. Dodge City, Kansas, 1878.


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