The Frontier Frederick Jackson Turner Analysis

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Turner’s obsession with the frontier mentality that in his opinion defined the American character, “that coarseness and strength combined with acuteness and acquisitiveness; that practical inventive turn of mind, quick to find expedients; that masterful grasp of material things... that restless, nervous energy; that dominant individualism" is a direct result of the frontier. However, as previously illustrated there are clearly other factors besides the frontier have helped to define America. Historian, Patricia Limerick one of the forerunners of the New Historians, argues and to a large part I agree that conquest is a more "sharp and honest term" than frontier. By "conquest," it is important to understand that it does not only mean the oft-depicted …show more content…
Frederick Jackson Turner was writing at a time that historians called the Progressive Age. It was during this time that historians sought to address the history of common people, and in fact that is what Turner did: he addressed the history of common people in the West. But of course, he tended to glorify society 's role in the West, and he viewed it though largely an Anglo-male perspective. In all fairness Turner, for all his oversights, his romanticism, and his racialism, sought to explain America. Turner’s thesis recognizes European immigration as being the root of civilization and Western homesteaders as being close to savages and uncivilized. While his may be characterized today as pure nostalgia, which is why in the modern era it comes across as being very simplistic and ethnocentric. Despite these oversights, Turners thesis still matters as it is still a large part of who America is. Our culture for numerous years embraced the idea, the nostalgia of the Cowboy, the Western movie and even still today the Boy Scout troop planning a foray into the wilderness. His thesis has helped us with our assumptions of what it is to be an American. How much government is necessary and what our relationship should be to the environment. Much of who we are can largely can be traced back to the idea of a frontier. What I do value is that he put forth a theory, and just with anything, you must start somewhere. Over time we have learned and as we have scratched the surfaces, and layers of racial and ethnic injustice emerge next to an unbridled desire to build a home and nurture the land. Each iteration brings a new perspective, In the end we as a people have not always acted on our highest ideals that we purport to embrace. Our failure to consistently live up to our ideals means that they are lofty and worth striving for.

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