America's Frontier Heritage by Ray Allen Billington

By Ray Allen Billington

The speculation complex in Frederick Jackson Turner's recognized 1893 essay, the importance of the Frontier in American historical past, has been debated by way of 3 generations of students. The pioneering adventure, Turner prompt, accounted for a number of the particular 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, similar to wastefulness, inventiveness, mobility, and a dozen extra. After establishing with a precis of the looks, attractiveness, and next dismissal of the speculation, the writer rigorously defines the "frontier" and studies contemporary facts on its political, social, and fiscal characterstics. He discusses the compulsion emigrate and examines different behavioral styles and features in his clarification of the way and why pioneers moved west. His vast bibliographic notes represent a striking advisor to the literature of many disciplines facing the frontier proposal.

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America's Frontier Heritage

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 specified features of the yankee humans: in the course of 3 centuries of growth their attitudes towards democracy, nationalism and individualism have been altered, and so they constructed distinctively American characteristics, reminiscent of wastefulness, inventiveness, mobility, and a dozen extra.

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When Frederick Jackson Turner read these challenging phrases to his fellow historians in Chicago during the summer of 1893 they attracted but perfunctory notice. Only one newspaper deigned his paper worthy of mentionon page threeand even his father, who was visiting there, wrote glowingly of everything but his son's performance. 39 Nor did the distribution of the essay in printed form inspire any chorus of acclaim. Edward Everett Hale acknowledged receipt of "your curious and interesting paper"; Francis A.

His quest for knowledge led him into two areas that helped clarify his thinking on the frontier. From the study of statistical and geographical publications originating in the Census Bureau he learned how and where the westward movement of peoples occurred; from scattered works by dozens of American and European authors he Page 9 realized that the frontier had been a moulding force in the evolution of the civilization of the United States. A pivotal book in shaping Turner's thoughts on the nature of westward migration was the Statistical Atlas of the United States Based on the Results of the Ninth Census 1870, prepared by the eminent statistician Francis A.

14 His Commonplace Booksnotebooks filled in the tradition of his day with scribbled thoughts and quotationsshow that he was already asking searching questions about the differences between American and European societies. ''Need of Study of foreign groups," he jotted on one occasion. "... Why are Nor[wegians] rep[ublicans]. "15 Did the mingling of peoples in new communities alter traditional social behavior? Answers to these questions required more training, and in 1888 at Allen's urging young Turner enrolled at the Johns Hopkins University, where he spent a year that was both challenging and disturbing.

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