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frederick jackson turner frontier thesis summary

The southern border, of course, brushed against the New England colonies, but the western frontier lay against the territories making up the Iroquois League.

In short, at the frontier the environment is at first too strong for the man....

In the course of the seventeenth century the frontier was advanced up the Atlantic river courses, just beyond the "fall line," and the tidewater region became the settled area. In the first half of the eighteenth century, another advance occurred. Traders followed the Delaware and Shawnese Indians to the Ohio as early as the end of the first quarter of the century. Governor Spotswood, of Virginia, made an expedition in 1714 across the Blue Ridge. The end of the first quarter of the century saw the advance of the Scotch-Irish and the Palatine Germans up the Shenandoah Valley into the western part of Virginia, and along the Piedmont region of the Carolinas. The Germans in New York pushed the frontier of settlement up the Mohawk to German Flats.

Frederick Turner's Thesis Summary - …

Little by little he transforms the wilderness, but the outcome is not the old Europe, not simply the development of Germanic germs, anymore than the first phenomenon was a case of reversion to the Germanic mark. The fact is, that here is a new product that is American. 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. Thus the advance of the frontier has meant a steady movement away from the influence of Europe, a steady growth of independence on American lines. And to study this advance, the men who grew up under these conditions, and the political, economic, and social results of it, is to study the really American part of our history.

Turner's characterization of the fur trade as a purely French activity can therefore be seen to be highly inaccurate.Finally, there is also the issue of the nature of the frontier itself.

Frederick Turner's Frontier Thesis Summary

In Turner's thesis, the American frontier is portrayed as the line between settled and Indian lands, which runs roughly north to south and which continually recedes westward.

Now, the frontier is the line of most rapid and effective Americanization. The wilderness masters the colonist. It finds him a European in dress, industries, tools, modes of travel, and thought. It takes him from the railroad car and puts him in the birch canoe. It strips off the garments of civilization and arrays him in the hunting shirt and the moccasin. It puts him in the log cabin of the Cherokee and Iroquois and runs an Indian palisade around him. Before long he has gone to planting Indian corn and plowing with a sharp stick; he shouts the war cry and takes the scalp in orthodox Indian fashion. In short, at the frontier the environment is at first too strong for the man. He must accept the conditions which it furnishes or perish, and so he fits himself into the Indian clearings and follows the Indian trails.

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Frederick Jackson Turner - Weber State University

Apart from his self-contradicting idea of Indian lands being unsettled yet inhabited, Turner greatly oversimplifies the character of the frontier in several important ways.

American Studies 101: 2a Turner's Frontier Thesis

He even goes so far as to argue that "French colonization was dominated by its trading frontier; English colonization by its farming frontier." The history of the French and English colonies argues otherwise.For instance, the Dutch colony of New Netherlands that later became New York was founded for the specific purpose of participating in the Indian fur trade, and the outpost of Fort Orange (now Albany) evolved to become the most important link of the trade.

Frederick Jackson Turner - Frontier Thesis

In Pennsylvania the town of Bedford indicates the line of settlement. Settlements had begun on New River, a branch of the Kanawha, and on the sources of the Yadkin and French Broad. The King attempted to arrest the advance by his proclamation of 1763 forbidding settlements beyond the sources of the rivers flowing into the Atlantic; but in vain. In the period of the Revolution the frontier crossed the Alleghenies into Kentucky and Tennessee, and the upper waters of the Ohio were settled. When the first census was taken in 1790, the continuous settled area was bounded by a line which ran near the coast of Maine, and included New England, except a portion of Vermont and New Hampshire, New York along the Hudson and up the Mohawk about Schenectady, eastern and southern Pennsylvania, Virginia well across the Shenandoah Valley, and the Carolinas and eastern Georgia.

Intro to Turner's Frontier Thesis - YouTube

It was across this frontier that French troops and their Indian allies put pressure on colonial Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New York throughout the 17th and 18th centuries, which ended only with the defeat of France in the Seven Years War.

Turner: The Frontier In American History

What is the frontier? It is not the European frontier -- a fortified boundary line running through dense populations. The most significant thing about it is that it lies at the hither edge of free land. In the census reports it is treated as the margin of that settlement which has a density of two or more to the square mile. The term is an elastic one, and for our purposes does not need sharp definition. We shall consider the whole frontier belt, including the Indian country and the outer margin of the "settled area" of the census reports. This paper will make no attempt to treat the subject exhaustively; its aim is simply to call attention to the frontier as a fertile field for investigation, and to suggest some of the problems which arise in connection with it.

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