Frederick Jackson Turner’s famous frontier thesis argued that through the Westward expansion came the formation of the first “American” people. Turner’s essay, presented around 1893, strongly correlates with the upheaval 1890’s. The shaping of the new American nation through the westward settlement can be later linked to economic troubles, labor struggles, and a rise in democracy and big business.
“At first, the frontier was the Atlantic coast. It was the frontier of Europe in a very real sense. Moving westward, the frontier became more and more American” (Turner). As the new Americans moved further westward and discovered opportunity, the need for transportation gave birth to the transcontinental railroad. Americans began to cultivate land, and master new trades, creating growing socio economic systems. The railroad industry proved to be a major component and a foundation of the new American industry. Railroads created need for steel production, coal and sparked a competitive mindset among companies. The railroad industry essentially was the first monopoly, in turn leading to granger laws, as well as several court cases arguing the role of government regulation in industry. Because of westward expansion, the railroads led the way into shaping the America’s economic growth, laws, and industry. Eventually, the creation of the numerous railroads and corporations gave way to labor unrest. Eventually, the new “rugged” American refused to comply with the unfair conditions of the factories- so much so that many labor strikes ended in violence. When the homestead workers refused to leave, gun battle erupted. The Pullman strike, as well as Dewey Cox’s army had a similar ending. Eventually the ups and downs of the economic problems led to the depression of 1893 beginning with the stock market collapse. Jackson stated, “as long as free land exists, the opportunity for a competency exists, and economic power secures political power”. This statement had...
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