In this article published in 1893, Turner discusses American development up to the late 1800s, describing it as open land in the West and its continuous recession. Throughout the article, he describes the process of American society moving from a primitive frontier to complex city life, and how that process repeats itself as the frontier line moves further westward.
Turner describes the frontier line as “the meeting point between savagery and civilization” (Turner, 3). He argues that the frontier shows the continuing Americanization of European life through geography, environment, and technologies, and through studying the frontier we can investigate true American history.
This article written by Jackson, in 1921 describes the ever-changing frontier moving from the Atlantic Coast as it moved westward. He describes the continual rebirth of American life as the frontier is continually pushed west and the effect this had on American society as a whole. He described the idea that as the frontier moved west American moved away from European culture and created American cultural independence. -Justin Binns
In this article, Turner is describing how the Western Frontier helped American’s to create their own way of life from European life. Turner writes, “Thus the advance of the frontier has meant a steady movement away from the influence of Europe, steady growth of independence on American lines” (Turner 4). American’s were creating a new environment for themselves. Turners says, “In short, at the frontier, the environment is at first too strong for the man” (Turner, 4). The settlers have to get used to the new environment, and geography of the new land they are inhabiting. Then they are able to Americanize the land and build cities that eventually flourish in the Western part of America.
During the mid to late 1800s America was growing rapidly in size. Many people were moving out West, and new states were being added to the U.S. Turner wrote, “The superintendent of the census for 1890 reports, as previously stated, that the settlements of the West lie so scattered over the region that there can no longer be said to be a frontier line” (Turner 9). By 1890, settlers were living all over the Western part of the U.S. By 1890, there were 44 states that made up The United States.
The history of the United States echoes the pattern of social evolution. The Indian and the hunter are first on the land. With the introduction of the trader, society becomes more aggressive and antagonistic. After the trader comes pastoral life with ranchers and then the scattered farming communities who exploit the soil by not rotating their crops. Afterward comes more compact farming communities, which is a more intense culture. The last system of organization is the cities and factories system, where manufacturing has replaced agriculture. Where in the United States these organizations exist have changed, with many cities, particularly in the Eastern United States, existing as “palimpsest” (Turner 12). As the frontier line changes as more people move and settle to new areas, and push the boundaries of the settlement, the new area starts at the beginning of social evolution, while the old areas continue to advance. At the beginning of European settlement into the Americas, the Atlantic coast was the frontier line. As people continued to immigrate, they moved farther and farther west, even when the English king attempted to stop them in 1763. This advance into the frontier continued long after the United States gained its independence, with other attempts at limiting the advancements from the Eastern states as well as US political figures such as Thomas Jefferson. However, now with settlements stretching from east to west, and unsettled areas having scattered settlements, the frontier can be said to be gone. -Francesca Maisano
Portions of this article go into detail about the expansion of French trading posts and English towns into the western parts of the eventual United States. As quoted in the piece, “Are you ignorant of the difference between the King of England and the King of France? Go see the forts that our king has established and you will see that you can still hunt under their very walls. They have been placed for your advantage in places which you frequent. The English, on the contrary, are no sooner in possession of a place than the game is driven away…” –Alec Marshall
For Turner, the American West was a different kind of beast that had been seen before in his time, and in them one could truly see what an “American” was and stood for. For Turner the frontier, while deriving their structure and definition from European influences, are nothing like the cities of the East Coast where the European influence was powerful. The frontier of the American West was made by men who stepped out into the frontier, and managed to wrest control from the wilderness and turn it into independent and distinct areas which are defined by the men who built them. They were bringing increasing complexities like representative governments, division of labor and specialization, and technology to the savage west, which was defined the American character in Turner's point of view.
American Identity: Previously in Europe, any boundaries drawn were divisions fortified to separate large populations. In the U.S. at the time Turner was writing about, there were barely any people beyond the frontier (aside from the Native Americans). Turner was convinced that the experience of battling the rough conditions of the frontier was the fastest and most effective way to instill the new American spirit. This mode of Americanization encouraged individuality, democracy and nationalism – characteristics still held as the essence of American people. – Khalia D.
Turner looks at the movement into the west and westward expansion as a way for the new American nation to move away from European influence by settling the west and creating their own independence by officially claiming new areas. The frontier officially challenged the ideas of a city by what came to be known as boom towns. These western towns were continuously evolved by the settlers who established them and the people who moved into the town afterward. – Ellora L.
Furthermore, Turner noted that the people had “become fused into a mixed race”. Unlike the ways of old, many people weren’t able to say that they were only German or purely British. The lines drawn between race that was previously kept intact while in Europe had begun to blur into a new array of multiracial people. – Khalia D.
A major point of Turner's article circles around the theory of Fall Lines, or places that were the edge of American civilization for a time. Places include the Allegheny's, The Shenandoah, The Mississippi River, the Missouri River, and the Rocky Mountains. –Alec Marshall
Turner's Frontier Thesis argues that the westward movement of the American frontier line, beginning with the point of European contact at the Atlantic, fostered the invention of the American identity. Pioneers combined Native survival knowledge with their own needs to build American spirit and democracy. -Amanda Miller
In this article, Turner tackles the titular significance of the frontier which he ascribes with creating the unified political entity we know today. He posits a model whereby the American frontier has expanded in a progression of phases starting with the fur trapper’s, moving to the miner’s, continuing with the rancher’s, and finishing on the farmer’s frontier. The trapper’s frontier was the earliest form of settlement in North America and spread the fastest by far. This quick spread of the trapper’s frontier was facilitated by the benefits which its expansion brought to Indian communities, such as the guns and ammunition which gave any armed tribe a great advantage over any unarmed neighbors. A second feature of the trapper’s frontier highlighted by Turner is its strangely oppositional relationship with the proceeding frontiers, especially the farmer’s. The arms which the traders and trappers brought to the Indians are then used to resist the farmers who attempt to settle their land. -Jason Elms
In Turner's article he states that in order to better understand the history of American life, we must also understand its relationship with Europe. The European lifestyle and ideals entered the continent but were challenged and changed as the country modified and developed. The conditions of the country changed the way that people had to react and grow in order to be successful. -Mariah Morton
Turner’s main idea throughout his article, “The Frontier in American History,” is about the importance of America’s separation from European traditions, values, and way of life, thus America beginning to establish its own nationality. Additionally, united action was another unifying factor in the establishment of the American identity, such as fighting Native Americans. After the initial establishment of the colonies and this form of American identity began to take shape, expansion across the United States was imminent. With the migration to the West, further North and South, and to the Midwest, the U.S. was no longer as dependent upon England as it had been previously. This further engrained the idea of national identity because the Americans were now relying on each other for goods. Additionally, I noticed a common theme in Turner’s article that he brings up a few times at the beginning of the article, the rapid expansion of cities in terms of population. This rapid expansion leads to the expansion of factories during the Industrial Revolution, jobs, housing, transportation, and much more to accommodate the ever-rapidly growing cities. - Devin Wright
Jackson describes the Frontier in a barbaric way. People wanting to leave there European roots moved out west to establish there own story, the American story. The themes of individuality and nationalism are prominent throughout his thesis. The many men that journeyed west wanted to make something out of themselves, perhaps veering away from urban society, which was heavily involved in government. With a heavy sense of relying on yourself rather than the government intervening with your life draws a sense of individualism. People wanting to become “American” rather than live in European influenced cities invokes a sense of nationalism. - Benny Siegel
“The Frontier in American History,” Turner would want to go over all of the similarities that a lot of places developed, but also show the very important differences, considering the place and time elements with when they were created. There is evidence that proves that the Mississippi Valley farming frontier would present different conditions to what the Rocky Mountains mining frontier would deal with in the elements used. With how the Pacific Railroad kept moving forward at a faster rate and in a different way that would reach the frontier than what was used before that, being that as it may, the traces discovered by geologist would show the shores of ancient seas, map their areas, and compare the old to the new. This only would work if the worth historian’s labors to mark the various amounts of frontiers that were being used and detailed all comparatively to each other. This would give us not only a much better concept of what Americans were looking to develop and the characteristics that were used but also the additions that would be used with the history of society. – Hunter Dykhuis
Frederick Jackson Turner highlighted that one of the most successful attempts of the Eastern border of the US was regulating the frontier “through its educational and religious activity” influenced by migration Turner(35). In essence, the fate of religion and politics in the US during this period rest solely on the frontier. Additionally, he believed that American Democracy was formed by the American frontier (Turner, 30). - Theophilus Felder
The frontier of America changed throughout the formation of America during its first 300 hundred years. This is a primary source article for understanding what and how Americans thought during the late part of the nineteenth century. Deborah Hunnel
Turner argues that the frontier is a defining aspect of American national identity, marking several distinct phases of American history separated by the settlement of that frontier and the discovery of new frontiers. The image Turner has of the frontier is one untouched by man, unspoiled nature waiting to be conquered and used by white Americans. This completely disregards the presence of Native Americans who lived on that land, and who had to be displaced in order for white Americans to settle that land. More than that, it is a cruel dehumanization of the Native Americans who were displaced, completely dismissing their way of life in the name of American nationalism. Through this lens, Turner serves as an effective source on white American perceptions of Native Americans at the time, or rather, the complete dismissal of Native Americans, their way of life, and the land they had stolen from them. -Nick Skibinski