The Frontier in American History

There are quite several sharp notions in The Frontier in American History by Frederick Jackson Turner, and all of these notions very well contribute to the revelation that with diversity comes the great possibility of acquiring an identity independent as it is from everything else outside.

Although much of what is written in the collected essays verifies the idea that the creation of a government of the people surpasses that which is merely imitated, the role of the external elements can be argued as indispensable elements in the establishment of an identity.  One of the central themes in The Frontier in American History is the idea of the formation of the government that is distinctive and proper to the Americans.

The author, Frederick Jackson Turner’s viewpoint in the book evidently shows his aim towards rendering a piece which will devote on tracing the history of America as well as with the nature of civilization.

It has been noted that Turner was one of the ambitious democratic leader with the bias on lurking deep on the “flaws” of those who are in office which furthers his conviction on self-reliance and the turmoil revolving around political idiosyncrasy.

The author was a piece of hopeful being.  Further, another major limitation of Turner’s thesis is that it does not adequately recognize the extent to which frontier societies are shaped by the economic and political systems of the states in which they are located or to which they are most closely linked.

It is not merely expansion into a wilderness that explains the character of a frontier society, but rather expansion within a particular social, economic and political context. In the slave states, for example, westward expansion occurred within an economic and legal context that transplanted the slave system and the values that went with it into new areas.

Written in the year 1920, several collaborations on the critique made in the light of The Frontier serves a moral vision, as presented in Chicago during the World’s Columbian Exposition and has even garnered his works Pulitzer Prize awards a year after he died[1].

This Wisconsin legend in history and literature has made a large impact on the society that his works were often placed in the table of deliberation as either that which is intellectually beneficial in the astounding arena of history or that which defeats the sagacity of being a historian.

The main fact that he held his theory on high hopes in building a feasible force in the economic, social and political discussion in America, it is undeniable that majority of historians having the attempt to fully bring up the marvel of The Frontier is admirably an epic as his works were given worth and space in encyclopedias as well as in classroom deliberations.

Turner’s argument is grounded on the premise that a government that is shaped according to other nations or that which resembles or at least partly incorporates external elements from foreign nations will not be suitable for the people and for the entire nation. It can be observed that

Turner firmly adheres to the principle of having an identity that is solidly based on what is natural to the people and to the rest of the country. What is natural supersedes those that are artificial—what is essentially natural to America is ‘diversity’ in the truest sense of the word[2].

Apparently, Turner makes it a point to bridge the issue with diversity to that of having a strong government structured according to the innate qualities of the American people. However, it fails to consider the fact that diversity also grants the substantial possibility of not actually unifying all the corners of the country into a single and identifiable sphere[3].

What Turner does is to transcend this ‘diversity’ and patch all the different—albeit intrinsic—‘American’ elements into a unified concept that virtually quells, at least in theory, the force of other external factors. He does this at least in the sense of proposing an ‘ideological’ battle, one that treats ideas far superior than brute or physical force.

Although Turner argues that bloodshed is inevitable, he also suggests that the ideas of man will have to take the core of the movement towards the establishment of an independent and unique government and that these ideas should come from the American people themselves and not from anybody else.

[1] Schultz, S. K. (1999). Turner, Frederick Jackson -Historian (1861-1932).   Retrieved October 19, 2007, from

[2] Thies, Cameron G. (2005), ‘War, Rivalry, and State Building in Latin America’, American Journal of Political Science, 49 (3), 453.

[3] Sullivan, John L. (1973), ‘Political Correlates of Social, Economic, and Religious Diversity in the American States’, The Journal of Politics, 35 (1), 71.


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