The Significance of the Frontier in American History

Topics: Native Americans in the United States, Western United States, American Old West Pages: 4 (1450 words) Published: February 16, 2012
How does Turner explain the recurring need for communication and transportation along the American frontier?
What Turner wants to point out here is that the American West is the most important feature of American history, and of the development of its society. He refers several times to a process of “Americanization” and we will see that the definition he gives of it is a very peculiar one. He gives a definition of the frontier: “it lies at the hither edge of free land”, meaning that he considers the Indian territory to be free land. According to him the frontier is the “meeting point between savagery and civilization”, “the most rapid and effective Americanization”. The process of Americanization he refers to is in fact a double transformation of the society. First the European people being stripped off by the wilderness they have to face in the west, and then those same people rebuilding a new society in which they turn the savage people into a civilized one, but not a “European civilized”, an American civilized population. It was, according to him, a plural-ethnical society in which “the immigrants were Americanized, liberated and fused into a mixed society”. Turner gives great credit to the frontier as a paramount feature of American history.

He defines it as a “steady movement away from Europe,” which corroborates what we have already seen, the fact that it was a two-fold process in which the European populations first got rid of their European “attributes.” He argues that the advance of the frontier was a means of being less and less dependent on England, and that the frontier helped develop democracy, the legislation, communication, transportation etc. For instance the Indian trade contributed in the development of transport and every colonization was a model for the others and improvements that could be made in a region served in others… It was, according to Turner, a circular system of dependencies, but this system remained internal, and European...
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