The Significance of the Frontier in American History
Frederick Jackson Turner
The "Frontier Thesis" or "Turner Thesis," is the argument advanced by historian Frederick Jackson Turner in 1894 that American democracy was formed by the American Frontier. He stressed the process-the moving frontier line-and the impact it had on pioneers going through the process. He also stressed consequences of a ostensibly limitless frontier and that American democracy and egalitarianism were the principle results. In Turner's thesis the American frontier established liberty by releasing Americans from European mindsets and eroding old, dysfunctional customs. The frontier had no need for standing armies, established churches, aristocrats or nobles, nor for landed gentry who controlled most of the land and charged heavy rents. Frontier land was free for the taking.