The Significance of the Frontier in American History

1439 Words Feb 5th, 2012 6 Pages
How does Turner explain the recurring need for communication and transportation along the American frontier? What Turner wants to point out here is that the American West is the most important feature of American history, and of the development of its society. He refers several times to a process of “Americanization” and we will see that the definition he gives of it is a very peculiar one. He gives a definition of the frontier: “it lies at the hither edge of free land”, meaning that he considers the Indian territory to be free land. According to him the frontier is the “meeting point between savagery and civilization”, “the most rapid and effective Americanization”. The process of Americanization he refers to is in fact a double …show more content…
Year by year the farmers who lived on soil, whose returns were diminished by unrotated crops were offered the virgin soil of the frontier at nominal prices. Their growing families demanded more lands, and these were dear. The competition of the unexhausted, cheap, and easily tilled prairie lands compelled the farmer either to go west and continue the exhaustion of the soil on a new frontier, or to adopt intensive culture.
Thus the census of 1890 shows, in the Northwest, many counties in which there is an absolute or a relative decrease of population. These States have been sending farmers to advance the frontier on the Plains, and have themselves begun to turn to intensive farming and to manufacture. A decade before this, Ohio had shown the same transition stage. Thus the demand for land and the love of wilderness freedom drew the frontier ever onward.
Having now roughly outlined the various kinds of frontiers and their modes of advance, chiefly from the point of view of the frontier itself, we may next inquire what were the influences on the East and on the Old World. A rapid enumeration of some of the more noteworthy effects is all that I have time for.
First, we note that the frontier promoted the formation of a composite nationality for the American people. The coast was preponderantly English, but the later tides of continental immigration
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