Frederick Jackson Turner The Father Of The Frontier Summary

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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

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