The tensions between small churches as a result of this fight, Turner states, exist today because of the religious attempt to master the West and those effects are worth further study. The frontier transformed Jeffersonian democracy into Jacksonian democracy. Throughout the twentieth century, historians have tried to assess the significance of the West, regarded, by some critics, as “the most distinctively American part of America” Bryce If you prefer to suggest your own revision of the article, you can go to edit mode requires login. On a more analytic level, an increasing number of Western historians have found the very concept of a frontier dubious, because it applies to too many disparate places and times to be useful. In the late nineteenth century, Frederick Jackson Turner, the founding father of Western history, attributed the unique American character to the experience of the frontier. The regionalism of the New Western History.

Much of their revisionism consists in refuting his thesis, but the New Western History also suggests a new reading of the Western past. You can make it easier for us to review and, hopefully, publish your contribution by keeping a few points in mind. The question is whether their frontiers were powerful enough to overcome conservative central forces based in the metropolis. It takes him from the railroad car and puts him in the birch canoe. This page was last edited on 11 May , at Hill and Wang,

PBS – THE WEST – Frederick Jackson Turner

After his graduation from the University of Wisconsin inTurner decided to become a professional historian, and received his Ph. One of the main features of the movement is its rejection of the word “frontier”, which the historians consider as racist and ethnocentric.

But in a sense, the very acrimony of these debates takes us full circle back to Turner and his legacy, for debates about the significance of Western history are hardly ever confined to the past.

Besides, Turner used the words “frontier” and “West” interchangeably, with the result that the historian put an end to the history of the West at the same tuners as he announced the closing of the frontier, in American democracy was born of no theorist’s dream; it was not carried in the Susan Constant to Virginia, nor in the Mayflower to Plymouth. Frederick Jackson Turner and the frontier thesis 3 Considered as the founding father of Western history, Frederick Jackson Turner is famous for a lecture he gave inentitled “The Significance of wha Frontier in American History”.


Frederick Jackson Turner

While it is generally agreed that the region corresponds to the entire territory lying west of the 98 th meridian, the limits of the West have long been frederock. Everything in American history up to the s somehow relates the western frontier, including slavery. William Appleman Williams led the “Wisconsin School” of diplomatic historians by arguing that the frontier thesis encouraged American overseas expansion, especially in Asia, during the 20th century.

Kennedy to p. Follow us RSS feed. His father, a journalist by trade and local historian by avocation, piqued Turner’s interest in history. The mainstream of the profession has long since discarded Turner’s assumption that the frontier is the key to American history as a whole; they point instead to the critical influence of such factors as slavery and the Civil War, immigration, and the development of industrial capitalism.

Proponents of the germ theory believed that political habits are determined by innate racial attributes.

A historical perspective,” Journal of the West Oct 34 4 pp. They emphasized the values of individualism, empiricism, simplicity, equality, courage, discovery, independence, and naturalism in the service of democratic access, human rights, ecological balance, and the resolution of social, economic, and political issues.

frederick jackson turners frontier thesis defined the american character in what way

Throughout the twentieth century, historians have tried to assess the significance of whzt West, regarded, by some critics, as “the most distinctively American part of America” Bryce So large is the area traditionally referred to as “the West” that the defining characteristics the New Historians are attached to are hardly applicable to all parts of the region. According to Turner, American progress has repeatedly undergone a cyclical process on the frontier line as society has needed to redevelop with its movement westward.

For a scholar of such wide influence, Turner wrote relatively few books. According to a critic, “by abandoning the idea of the frontier and making the West as place the center of [their] focus, [the New Western Historians have] drained away some of the drama of life on the edges where people and places meet” Weber, in Worster, Armitage, Malone, Weber, and Limerickitalics in the text.


Turner’s emphasis on the importance of the frontier in shaping American character influenced the interpretation found in thousands of scholarly histories. Notes 1 According to the “germ theory”, the ancestors of the Anglo-Saxons had devised their political and social organization in the forests of medieval Germany, institutions that had then influenced the development of England, before reaching the Charactter colonies. The New Historians try so hard to define and study the West as a region with distinctive characteristics that they fall into the trap of generalization.

First, Turner rejects the “germ theory”, which claimed that American institutions and customs had been imported from Europe, therefore stressing the continuity of institutions and de-emphasizing the significance of American experience.

By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. They also became more violent, more individualistic, more distrustful of authority, less artistic, less scientific, and more dependent on ad-hoc organizations they formed themselves. Turner sets up the East and the West as opposing forces; as the West whaf for freedom, the East seeks to control it. Any text you add should be original, not copied from other sources.

Frontier Thesis – Wikipedia

He retired in but continued his research until his death in Keep Exploring Britannica September 11 attacks. For instance, Western historians have paid more attention to colonialism over the last decade.

frederick jackson turners frontier thesis defined the american character in what way

While Turner depicted the westward movement as a march of civilization and progress, the new historians denounce the expansionism and colonialism of the nation. Milner, II, and Charles Rankin eds. Start your free trial today for unlimited access to Britannica. The Turner thesis has had an extremely long-lasting impact, and may be considered as one of the main documents of American historiography.

frederick jackson turners frontier thesis defined the american character in what way

University Press of Kansas,