By Ray Allen Billington
The speculation complicated in Frederick Jackson Turner's recognized 1893 essay, the importance of the Frontier in American historical past, has been debated by means of 3 generations of students. The pioneering adventure, Turner advised, accounted for a few of the precise features of the yankee humans: in the course of 3 centuries of enlargement their attitudes towards democracy, nationalism and individualism have been altered, they usually constructed distinctively American characteristics, comparable to wastefulness, inventiveness, mobility, and a dozen extra. After commencing with a precis of the looks, popularity, and next dismissal of the idea, the writer conscientiously defines the "frontier" and experiences fresh facts on its political, social, and fiscal characterstics. He discusses the compulsion emigrate and examines different behavioral styles and qualities in his rationalization of ways and why pioneers moved west. His large bibliographic notes represent a amazing advisor to the literature of many disciplines facing the frontier proposal.
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Additional info for America's Frontier Heritage
They insisted that he based his examples on the Old Northwest, and that his theory collapsed if applied to other sections of the country. In the arid Southwest, they pointed out, cooperative enterprise needed for irrigation projects displaced individualism, law enforcement devices were copied from the East, and frontiersmen showed no tendency to innovate as they applied irrigation techniques handed down unchanged from the Moors. Critics also charged that Turner's "stages" of social evolutionwith trapper, herdsman, small farmer, and equipped farmer marching in orderly procession across the continentnot only failed to describe the actual patterns but obscured the contribution of a variety of Western- Page 18 ers (such as land speculators) who played just as essential a role in the conquest of the West.
He helped popularize his own findings by a small but significant stream of publications. His original essay appeared not only in historical journals, but in the yearbook of the National Herbart Society in 1899 and the International Socialist Review in 1905. 42 Within a decade after its appearance, the "frontier hypothesis" was known to every competent historian and to a respectable portion of the lay public. " 46 A generation concerned with the wild-eyed Westerners who had rallied beneath the banner of the Populist Party, and uncertain of itself, as the nation blundered upon the international scene as a major power, was receptive to a theory that made the West understandable and that glorified nationalism and democracy as American virtues.
If Turner stood indicted for the vagueness of his language and the inexactness of his understanding of the frontier process, he was also branded the victim of faulty methodology. His critics charged that his misuse of statistics obscured the operation of nongeographic forces in stimulating migration westward. They insisted that he based his examples on the Old Northwest, and that his theory collapsed if applied to other sections of the country. In the arid Southwest, they pointed out, cooperative enterprise needed for irrigation projects displaced individualism, law enforcement devices were copied from the East, and frontiersmen showed no tendency to innovate as they applied irrigation techniques handed down unchanged from the Moors.
America's Frontier Heritage by Ray Allen Billington