Literature Study GuidesThe Significance Of The Frontier In American History

The Significance of the Frontier in American History | Study Guide

Frederick Jackson Turner

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Course Hero. "The Significance of the Frontier in American History Study Guide." Course Hero. 26 Apr. 2019. Web. 24 May 2019. <https://www.coursehero.com/lit/The-Significance-of-the-Frontier-in-American-History/>.

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Course Hero. (2019, April 26). The Significance of the Frontier in American History Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved May 24, 2019, from https://www.coursehero.com/lit/The-Significance-of-the-Frontier-in-American-History/

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Course Hero. "The Significance of the Frontier in American History Study Guide." April 26, 2019. Accessed May 24, 2019. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/The-Significance-of-the-Frontier-in-American-History/.

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Course Hero, "The Significance of the Frontier in American History Study Guide," April 26, 2019, accessed May 24, 2019, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/The-Significance-of-the-Frontier-in-American-History/.

Overview

Author

Frederick Jackson Turner

Year Published

1893

Type

Primary Source

Genre

History

At a Glance

  • The 1890 census declared that settlements on the American frontier had become so dispersed and isolated that there was no longer a frontier "line," or border, and the frontier was no longer subject to census reports. According to American historian Frederick Jackson Turner (1861–1932), this marked the "closing of a great historical movement" since the frontier formed a uniquely American character marked by practical self-reliance.
  • At the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition to mark the 400th anniversary of Italian explorer Christopher Columbus's (1451–1506) voyage, Turner gave a speech amidst fellow academics, laying out his "frontier thesis." He argued that frontier exploration had uniquely shaped the country's social institutions and economic growth.
  • Most historians explained American development by focusing on famous figures in New England and Europe, but Turner highlighted previously overlooked accomplishments of Western settlers. Turner was among the first to present the American West as a place of discovery, struggle, and triumph.
  • Turner's theory dominated American history in classrooms for decades. Many scholars consider Turner's essay the most influential interpretation of American history ever written. It redefined historians' notions of American democracy and progress.
  • In the mid-1980s, however, several historians felt Turner ignored the experience of marginalized and colonized groups in the West, such as women and Native Americans. Turner's critics point out that discussions of the frontier overwhelmingly look at the perspective of white settlers.

Summary

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