Reappraisal of Turner's Frontier Theory
SIE International Summer School
By the late 19 century, numerous American intensified the appeal of foreign markets. Firstly, In 1890, the US Bureau of the Census reported that no frontiers remained in the United States. The pioneers had conquered the west. Then, in 1893, a young historian named Frederick Jackson Turner published essay "The Significance of the Frontier in American History". "Up to our own day, American history has been in a large degree the history of the colonization of the Great West. The existence of an area of free land, its continuous recession, and the advance of American settlement westward, explain American development". The above assertion from Turner's essay in 1893 demonstrated his idea that the origin of the distinctive individualism, democratic and egalitarianism features of the American character had been the American frontier experience. In his thesis, citizens taming the wildness and civilizing the settlement which were away from the European culture influence developed unique American identity. Based on this theory, he encouraged Americans to expand overseas and found the new frontier which had been essential to the growth of economy and cultivation of democracy. In 1997, Maryanne Kearny Datesman demonstrated Turner’s frontier heritage in his book "The American ways: an introduction to American culture". In this book, the importance of frontier and western movement in shaping American individualism is explained. Firstly, less control over social and political legislation in the frontier created a relaxed atmosphere for freedom. “The elaborate social customs of the East gave way to the simpler pleasures of barn dance.” Pioneers set up simple forms of government that met frontier needs. Secondly, American living on the frontier had to be more self-reliant. Being adaptive to wild life which was different from those they had known in Europe, these pioneers gradually...
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