Frederick Jackson Turner painted the picture of what is recognized today as American history with his Frontier Thesis, first introduced to the American Historical Association in Chicago in 1893 with his seminal paper “The Significance of the Frontier in American History,” where he calls the frontier “the line of most rapid and effective Americanization” (201). Turner, although he did not himself coin the phrase, may be appropriately named the father of “rugged individualism,” a prevailing understanding of the American spirit, which refers to the go it alone, bootstrapping mentality Turner would indicate that the West, and thereby the nation, was founded upon. Chief In-mut-too-yah-lat-lat – which means “thunder traveling over the …show more content…
In Turner, we are told that the cost of conquest is nothing beside the rewards it brings, but with Chief Joseph, we see the truth of this deception and realize that after the War, the Indian Peoples became, as blacks before them, mere pawns at the hands of the white man in this great American experiment. Turner’s paper eulogized the frontier, coming on the heels of the U.S. Census Bureau’s announcement that there was no longer a discernable frontier line in 1890. Turner saw the West as a laboratory, where our nation truly created its own identity, away from the European influence felt in the East. There, “out of the primitive economic and political conditions of the frontier,” were the settlers able to create something expressly American as they moved “into the complexity of city life,” founding a new “individualism, democracy and nationalism (Turner, 199; 225). Turner’s narrative of American expansion is well-illustrated by John Gast in his famous painting American Progress, which depicts Lady Progress bringing forth the light from the East to illuminate the dark, savage, and undiscovered West, guiding settlers who come by stagecoach and train as the Native Peoples retreat, fading out of the scene (Elmore, Sept. 12). “The American frontier,” says Turner, “lies at the hither edge of free land,” and when he speaks of it, he does so “[considering] the whole frontier belt, including the Indian country” (Turner, 200). Because
“The Contested Plains: Indians, Goldseekers, and the Rush to Colorado” Written by Elliott West. I chose to write about this book because of the large range of events and transitions that occurred throughout the American West that the author includes in the text. Elliot West highlights the struggles that many endured while trying to create better circumstances for not only themselves but also their families by moving to the west. He chronicles the adaptations that many white settlers arriving in the west faced in order to be able to make a living for themselves. But another reason why I found the book interesting was because of the way Elliot West provided perspective for each side of the struggle over the American West. He gives us the
Patricia Nelson Limerick describes the frontier as being a place of where racial tension predominately exists. In her essay, “The Frontier as a Place of Ethnic and Religion Conflict,” Limerick says that the frontier wasn’t the place where everyone got to escape from their problems from previous locations before; instead she suggested that it was the place in which we all met. The frontier gave many the opportunities to find a better life from all over the world. But because this chance for a new life attracted millions of people from different countries across the seas, the United States experienced an influx of immigrants. Since the east was already preoccupied by settlers, the west was available to new settlement and that
There are many ways in which we can view the history of the American West. One view is the popular story of Cowboys and Indians. It is a grand story filled with adventure, excitement and gold. Another perspective is one of the Native Plains Indians and the rich histories that spanned thousands of years before white discovery and settlement. Elliot West’s book, Contested Plains: Indians, Goldseekers and the Rush to Colorado, offers a view into both of these worlds. West shows how the histories of both nations intertwine, relate and clash all while dealing with complex geological and environmental challenges. West argues that an understanding of the settling of the Great Plains must come from a deeper understanding, a more thorough
The frontier was the most line of rapidness and effective Americanization. When the masters of the colonist found him, an European, it stripped him and provided him with a hunting shirt and moccasin. It settles him in a log cabin of the Cherokee and Iroquois. It provided a planting job of Indian corn and plowing with a sharp stick. Before going to planting he shouted the war cry and took the scalp in Indian fashion. Little by little his transformation outcomes were not old Europe and not the development of Germanic germs.
The Lakota, an Indian group of the Great Plains, established their community in the Black Hills in the late eighteenth century (9). This group is an example of an Indian community that got severely oppressed through imperialistic American actions and policy, as the Americans failed to recognize the Lakota’s sovereignty and ownership of the Black Hills. Jeffrey Ostler, author of The Lakotas and the Black Hills: The Struggle for Sacred Ground, shows that the Lakota exemplified the trends and subsequent challenges that Indians faced in America. These challenges included the plurality of groups, a shared colonial experience, dynamic change, external structural forces, and historical agency.
After reading Turner’s Thesis, it is easy to understand the more important concept of moving the Frontier to the West. He states how we are influenced by the changes the America has to go through. He believes that the
According to Turner, through America’s conquest of the frontier, the cultural traits of Americans could be credited to the directly to the land and “that coarseness and strength combined with acuteness and acquisitiveness; that practical inventive turn of mind, quick to find expedients; that masterful grasp of material things... that restless, nervous energy; that dominant individualism"(Turner 34). While on the other side of the argument, Pierson believed that traits of modern Americans such as democracy and individualism had already existed in other parts of the world, and the frontier itself had not created whole new theories and ways of
In 1893, at the 400th anniversary of the appearance of Columbus in the Americas celebrated in Chicago , Frederick Jackson Turner presented an academic paper entitled, “The Significance of the Frontier in American History” In this essay, Turner proposes that, “The existence of an area of free land, its continuous recession, and the advance of American settlement westward explain American development.” The group dynamic that Turner champions is the farmer. More directly it is white, male farmers. While the expansion of the west by white male farmers was a factor in the development of America, it is not the only explanation for this progression. Turner fails to incorporate all of the demographics present during this expansion which were essential to the evolution of America.
“The Indian presence precipitated the formation of an American identity” (Axtell 992). Ostracized by numerous citizens of the United States today, this quote epitomizes Axtell’s beliefs of the Indians contributing to our society. Unfortunately, Native Americans’ roles in history are often categorized as insignificant or trivial, when in actuality the Indians contributed greatly to Colonial America, in ways the ordinary person would have never deliberated. James Axtell discusses these ways, as well as what Colonial America may have looked like without the Indians’ presence. Throughout his article, his thesis stands clear by his persistence of alteration the Native Americans had on our nation. James Axtell’s bias delightfully enhances his thesis, he provides a copious amount of evidence establishing how Native Americans contributed critically to the Colonial culture, and he considers America as exceptional – largely due to the Native Americans.
The subject of this chapter summary will be the eighteenth chapter of Alan Taylor’s American Colonies. The chapter is called “The Great Plains” and discusses the history of that geographical region from 1680-1800. Taylor begins by explaining how warfare both sustained and weakened New Mexico. It maintained unity, because without an external enemy to focus on, the Pueblo people would rise up in revolt against Mexico. However, the constant warfare discouraged any new settlers from putting down roots there. Spain's holdings in North America were weakened by the foreign policy of the motherland, which focused on the colonial core of the territory, not the exterior regions. For Mexico, New Mexico was just a buffer zone between itself and other
Response to Turner's Essay on The Significance of the Frontier in American History Turner's "The Significance of the Frontier in American History" essay presents the primary model for comprehending American history. Turner developed his notions on the uncovering of the 1890 census that the frontier was coming to an end, that the nation had occupied its continental borders. As Turner discusses in his essay, an extensive era of American development approached an ending, but left enduring marks on American society. A major notion within his claims of the American frontier is, "the existence of an area of free land, its continuous recession, and the advance of American settlement westward, [that]
One of the many tendencies of the White European system of Westward Expansion is a blindness to recognize the history and advancements of civilization achieved in the West prior to White European arrival. Within the passage “The American West and the Burden of Belief,” Momaday argues that White Europeans demonstrate unaccepting and naive attitudes towards Native culture and their role in society. Momaday’s argument is strengthened when describing an ex-cavalry leader in the Civil War: George Armstrong Custer. Momaday suggests, “George Armstrong Custer could see and articulate the beauty of the plains, but he could not see the people who inhabited them. Or he could see them only as enemies, impediments to the glory for which he hungered. He
The American frontier is an era of great pride and taming of the nature with the will to conquer. American society is taught to never give up and peruse one’s dream, to value that dream and do whatever it takes in order to achieve it. Although this provides a double edged sword for society as it can be the will on one side, but also be the downfall on another. For if any person is supposed to truly resemble the American frontier, then Buffalo Bill would be that image. Yet, in a Native American perspective, his double edged sword is a continually growing downfall for the culture.
In 1893, when Frederick Jackson Turner delivered his speech on the significance of frontier at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, he was addressing an audience that had witnessed the drastic changes that swept through the country over the past sixty or so years. The United States had gone from the agrarian nation of Jefferson’s vision—one with a relatively balanced division of wealth, a population of homogenous skilled workers, and a narrow definition of equality based on a broad definition of freedom—to the highly industrialized urban nation glorified by the World’s Fair itself—one of polarized wealth, vast and increasing numbers of unassimilated,