Frederick Jackson Turners Thesis

Turner saw this as inevitable and part of the upward moving thrust of American society created by the dynamic frontier.American historians have continued to be fascinated by Turner's thesis, and it has had significant academic influence.Nonetheless, the Turner thesis remained a popular albeit widely debated assessment of American development. The Genesis of the Frontier Thesis: A Study in Historical Creativity.

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After his graduation from the University of Wisconsin in 1884, Turner decided to become a professional historian, and received his Ph. He retired in 1924 but continued his research until his death in 1932.

Turner's contribution to American history was to argue that the frontier past best explained the distinctive history of the United States.

Turner outlined progressive stages of settlement, dominated by the taming of the frontier from exploration through urban development, all the while maintaining that the experience of westward movement across the American continent was responsible for creating the independence and resourcefulness that comprised the heart of American character.

The Turner thesis became the dominant interpretation of American history for the next century, although after the early 1980s "new western historians," who rejected Turner's grand theory for its lack of racial inclusiveness and overly triumphant paradigm, emphasized a more inclusive approach to frontier history. Rereading Frederick Jackson Turner: "The Significance of the Frontier in American History" and Other Essays.

Frederick Jackson Turner presented an essay entitled, “The Significance of the Frontier in American History” in 1893 at the Chicago World’s Fair.

He argued that all the characteristics that the world associated with the American national character were forged on the western frontier, and that it was the west, not the east, that truly dictated the course of American history.

Turner took this "closing of the frontier" as an opportunity to reflect upon the influence it had exercised.

He argued that the frontier had meant that every American generation returned "to primitive conditions on a continually advancing frontier line." Along this frontier -- which he also described as "the meeting point between savagery and civilization" -- Americans again and again recapitulated the developmental stages of the emerging industrial order of the 1890's.

This development, in Turner's description of the frontier, "begins with the Indian and the hunter; it goes on with the disintegration of savagery by the entrance of the trader...

the pastoral stage in ranch life; the exploitation of the soil by the raising of unrotated crops of corn and wheat in sparsely settled farm communities; the intensive culture of the denser farm settlement; and finally the manufacturing organization with the city and the factory system." For Turner, the deeper significance of the frontier lay in the effects of this social recapitulation on the American character.


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