Chapter 8: Investigation
According to Turner, the hardships required to perpetuate social evolution along the frontier had shaped the political process in America at the time. His theory, being from a Westerner’s perspective, did not receive much acknowledgment at the time. However, many thinkers of this era were of a post Darwinism understanding. Political and socioeconomic evolutions are due in part to the settler mindset that is deeply instilled into the western frontier of America. To Turner, America imposes a Composite nationality. The people who inhabited the frontier early on were primarily servants. This promoted a population of people from various cultures around the world. Not only did this promote individualism, but it also allowed communities to redefine themselves and become something new. Turner believes that it is from here, and not European influence, that we found our economic and political voice as a nation. 2.
The American political institutions did not so much serve the frontier, as the frontier served to help shape the politics in America. We can begin to understand what Turner means as we deconstruct his thoughts on the Growth of Democracy. The ideas as to what individual liberties were at the time became convoluted as those operating in the frontier acted without government. We can see how our ideas of what it is to have a right evolve from a standard of living. On the frontier, there is a lack of supervision and democracy, leading to a lifestyle that is supported by extreme individualism. Things such as our right to property and privacy come about from a life removed from government, according to Turner. Democracy, in turn, is shaped according to this mode of operation further on down the line. As the frontier began to flourish and take shape, so did the ideas that were so deeply instilled in the area. 3.
Social breakdown occurs when the settlement becomes a permanent fixture that requires government, or governing bodies. We can begin...
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