If Turner was right, then the American national character is a product of the frontier; we talk and behave the way we do because of the frontier experience. 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, individualism , inventiveness, restless energy, mobility, materialism, and optimism. Turner hoped that stability would replace mobility as a defining factor in the development of American society and that communities would become stronger as a result. You may find it helpful to search within the site to see how similar or related subjects are covered. Turner first announced his thesis in a paper entitled ” The Significance of the Frontier in American History “, delivered to the American Historical Association in in Chicago. Theodore Roosevelt’s Myth of the Frontier”. Three years before Turner’s pronouncement of the frontier thesis, the U.

The question is whether their frontiers were powerful enough to overcome conservative central forces based in the metropolis. Articles from Britannica Encyclopedias for elementary and high school students. If Turner was right, then the American national character is a product of the frontier; we talk and behave the way we do because of the frontier experience. Everything in American history up to the s somehow relates the western frontier, including slavery. They emphasized the values of individualism, empiricism, simplicity, equality, courage, discovery, independence, and naturalism in the service of democratic access, human rights, ecological balance, and the resolution of social, economic, and political issues.

Turner believes that civilization has an orderly evolutionary cycle that starts in the savage state, moves to pastoralism, and ends with cities and industry. The particular environmental situation to which these individuals were subjected directly affected their economic and social development.

explain frederick jackson turners frontier thesis

Start Your Free Trial Today. Slatta xeplain that the widespread popularization of Turner’s frontier thesis influenced popular histories, motion pictures, and novels, which characterize the West in terms of individualism, frontier violence, and rough justice. Turner moved to the Huntington Library in San Marino, Californiawhere he remained as senior research associate until his death.


Corporate investors headquartered in New York laid the railroads; government troops defeated Indian nations who refused to get out of the way of manifest destiny; even the cowboys, enshrined in popular mythology as rugged loners, were generally low-level employees of sometimes foreign-owned cattle corporations.

Turner said that in the development of any frontier area, one phase of economic and social development followed another in distinct stages. Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Turner’s thesis quickly became popular among intellectuals. Frederick Jackson Turner “The existence of an area of free land, its continuous recession, and the advance of American settlement westward explain American development.

However, the availability of free, undeveloped land in the West had enabled Americans to go through a kind of rebirthing process. Three years before Turner’s pronouncement of the frontier thesis, the U.

Frontier Thesis

Stand at South Pass in the Rockies a century later and see the same procession with wider intervals between. Limerick points out that Kennedy assumed that “the campaigns of the Old Frontier had been successful, and morally drontier. Turner taught at the University of Wisconsin untilwhen he accepted an appointment to a distinguished chair of history at Harvard University. Thank you for your feedback. Contact our editors with your feedback.

By signing up, you agree to our Privacy Notice. Each side, the Westerners and the native savages, struggled for mastery of the land through violence. Turner’s emphasis on the importance of the frontier in shaping American character influenced the interpretation found in thousands of scholarly histories.


The Turner Theses

Prehistory Pre-Columbian Colonial — — — — — — — — — —present. However, others viewed this interpretation as the impetus for a new wave in the history of United States imperialism. You can make it easier for us to review and, hopefully, publish your contribution by keeping a few points in mind.

European characteristics fell by the wayside and the old country’s institutions e. Turner was born in Portage, Wisconsin, in Census Bureau had announced the disappearance of a contiguous frontier line.

The safety valve thesis is the assertion that the frontier, as a place of opportunity and escape, defused social discontent in America. His critics have denied everything from his basic assumptions to the small details of his argument.

explain frederick jackson turners frontier thesis

It came out of the American forest, and it gained new strength each time it touched a rrontier frontier,” said Turner. At the bottom of the article, feel free to list any sources that support your changes, so that we can fully understand their context.

A similarly race-based interpretation of Western history also occupied the intellectual sphere in the United States before Turner.

Individualism was king on the frontier. Turner believes that state lines are artificial constructs, and that regions are really divided by natural boundary lines, such as mountains.

explain frederick jackson turners frontier thesis

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