Critics of turners frontier thesis

They encountered environmental challenges that were different from those they had known in Europe. Most important was the presence of uncultivated arable land. They adapted to the new environment in certain ways — the cumulative effect of these adaptations was Americanization. According to Turner, the forging of the unique and rugged American identity had to occur precisely at the juncture between the civilization of settlement and the savagery of wilderness.

Critics of turners frontier thesis

Frederick Jackson Turner "The existence of an area of free land, its continuous recession, and the advance of American settlement westward explain American development. Turner was born in Portage, Wisconsin, in His father, a journalist by trade and local historian by avocation, piqued Turner's interest in history.

After his graduation from the University of Wisconsin inTurner decided to become a professional historian, and received his Ph. He served as a teacher and scholar at the University of Wisconsin from towhen he joined Harvard's faculty.

He retired in but continued his research until his death in Turner's contribution to American history was to argue that the frontier past best explained the distinctive history of the United States.

He most cogently articulated this idea in "The Significance of the Frontier in American History," which he first delivered to a gathering of historians in at Chicago, then the site of the World's Columbian Exposition, an enormous fair to mark the four-hundredth anniversary of Columbus' voyage.

Although almost totally ignored at the time, Turner's lecture eventually gained such wide distribution and influence that a contemporary scholar has called it "the single most influential piece of Critics of turners frontier thesis in the history of American history.

Census Bureau had announced the disappearance of a contiguous frontier line. Turner took this "closing of the frontier" as an opportunity to reflect upon the influence it had exercised. He argued that the frontier had meant that every American generation returned "to primitive conditions on a continually advancing frontier line.

This development, in Turner's description of the frontier, "begins with the Indian and the hunter; it goes on with the disintegration of savagery by the entrance of the trader Turner's essay reached triumphalist heights in his belief that the promotion of individualistic democracy was the most important effect of the frontier.

Individuals, forced to rely on their own wits and strength, he believed, were simply too scornful of rank to be amenable to the exercise of centralized political power. Turner offered his frontier thesis as both an analysis of the past and a warning about the future.

Frederick Jackson Turner - Wikipedia

If the frontier had been so essential to the development of American culture and democracy, then what would befall them as the frontier closed? It was on this forboding note that he closed his address: His critics have denied everything from his basic assumptions to the small details of his argument.

The mainstream of the profession has long since discarded Turner's assumption that the frontier is the key to American history as a whole; they point instead to the critical influence of such factors as slavery and the Civil War, immigration, and the development of industrial capitalism.

But even within Western and frontier history, a growing body of historians has contested Turner's approach. Some have long disputed the very idea of a frontier of "free land.

Critics of turners frontier thesis

The numerous Indian wars provoked by American expansion belie Turner's argument that the American "free land" frontier was a sharp contrast with European nations' borders with other states. On a more analytic level, an increasing number of Western historians have found the very concept of a frontier dubious, because it applies to too many disparate places and times to be useful.

How much do Puritan New England and the California of the transcontinental railroad really have in common? Many such critics have sought to replace the idea of a moving frontier with the idea of the West as a distinctive region, much like the American South.

Where Turner told the triumphalist story of the frontier's promotion of a distinctly American democracy, many of his critics have argued that precisely the opposite was the case. Cooperation and communities of various sorts, not isolated individuals, made possible the absorption of the West into the United States.

Most migrant wagon trains, for example, were composed of extended kinship networks. Moreover, as the 19th century wore on, the role of the federal government and large corporations grew increasingly important. 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.

Critics of turners frontier thesis

Moreover, these revisionist scholars argue, for many places the West has not been the land of freedom and opportunity that both Turnerian history and popular mythology would have us believe. For many women, Asians, Mexicans who suddenly found themselves residents of the United States, and, of course, Indians, the West was no promised land.

The more foreboding and cautionary tale which increasing numbers of Western historians have offered in place of Turner's account has provoked sharp controversy. Western historians who still adhere roughly to Turner's approach accuse their opponents of mistaking a simple-minded political correctness for good scholarship in their quest to recount only the doom and gloom of the Western past.The Frontier Thesis or Turner Thesis, is the argument advanced by historian Frederick Jackson Turner in that the origin of the distinctive egalitarian, democratic, aggressive, and innovative features of the American character has been the American frontier experience.

He stressed the process—the moving frontier line—and the impact it had on pioneers going through the process. The first frontier had to meet its Indian question, its question of the disposition of the public domain, of the means of intercourse with older settlements, of the extension of political organization, of religious and educational activity.

Despite the critics' dissent, Turner's Frontier Thesis was the prevailing view of the frontier taught in American schools and colleges until the mids.

There were (and are) entire books and readers for classroom use devoted extensively to the Turner Thesis. Jan 29,  · In , in "The Frontier and American Institutions: A Criticism of the Turner Thesis," Professor George Wilson Pierson debated the validity of the Turner thesis, stating that many factors influenced American culture besides the looming leslutinsduphoenix.com: Resolved.

Frederick Jackson Turner, “The Significance of the Frontier in American History,” frontier thesis. The following viewpoint, written in , remains a cogent critique. . Download-Theses Mercredi 10 juin

Frontier Thesis - Wikipedia