Frontier In American History

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Frederic Jackson Turner, an American historian in the early 20th century, is known for his essay “The Significance of the Frontier in American History”. In his writings, Turner theorized that certain defining aspects of the United States, such as geography, government, and economy could be traced back to the development of the American frontier. The U.S. census of 1890, which announced the disappearance of a contiguous frontier line, claimed that the since the land was already claimed, “there can hardly be said to be a frontier line.” However, Turner theorized that “the existence of an area of free land, its continuous recession, and the advance of American settlement westward,” meant that the American development was an ongoing process of…show more content…
It would not be until the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, that western historians would also attempt to describe the development and effects of the western frontier. Historian Patricia Nelson Limerick and others adopted the idea that the west is a place and not so much a process, as Turner recounted. Although they did not completely dismiss Turner’s ideas that the West essentially is a “process at work in the region’s history,” they rejected the term frontier because to them the term epitomized ethnocentrism. Ethnocentric because, as other historians indicated, the West was not always the land of freedom for anyone to settle. For many ethnicities; Asians, Latinos, African Americans, and especially the Indians, the West was not the land of opportunity but was riddled with violence. The new settlers, many from different parts of the world, in conflict with others, created lines on a map as land became physical property, exhibiting that migration was not just about adapting to new practices and ideas. The history of America’s West cannot exist without including growing savagery caused by the division between genders, races, and classes, as these events were not only processes. To Limerick, the discovery of the West was not just the end of a journey, but also “as many complicated environments occupied by natives who considered their homeland to be the
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