In his paper The Significance of the Frontier in American History, Frederick Jackson Turner argues that the development of the American society was largely shaped by the exploration of the new lands and westward expansion. These processes were important for modifying the cultural legacies of the colonizers (Turner 1998).
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These are the main points of this reading and they are important for discussing other works of this historian. Overall, it is possible to argue that this historian presents an interesting argument that can throw light on the evolution of political life in the United States. Nevertheless, he diminishes the influence of European political or religious thought on the culture of the country. This is the main limitation that should be considered.
Overall, the author cannot remain entirely objective while analyzing the evolution of the American community. He emphasizes the premise that the westward extension separated Americans from their European legacies (Turner 1998). The author believes that the new settlers could live in an environment in which they were not restricted by certain boundaries (Turner 1998).
This is why they could develop political institutions that different from the governmental agencies existing in other countries. These are the main assumptions of this work. Nevertheless, the author does not speak about the impact of their cultural heritage on their behavior, principles and attitude toward one another. This is one of the main aspects that can be identified. Although, Frederick Turner offers a very interesting claim, he cannot remain unbiased. This issue is important for the assessment of his arguments.
It should be taken into consideration that the author relies on various sources describing the experiences of colonizers. In some cases, Frederick Turner relies on the narratives of people who explored a particular territory (Turner 1998).
On the one hand, the approach is very helpful because the author can examine the primary documents that are related to the direct experiences of colonizers. However, at the same time, these documents are more likely to be very subjective. Apart from that, his paper incorporates the works of other historians.
One should admit that the ideas of Frederick Turner should be taken into account by modern historians. The dynamic nature of the American frontier is important for showing why America turned a country that differed significantly from many European states. Nevertheless, this author does not pay much attention to such aspects as religion, science, and political culture that were inherited by the explorers and colonizers of the American West. This information should be considered by people who study American history.
In his discussion, the author rejects the so-called germ theory of politics according to which the political life of a certain community is affected by the cultural legacies of the population.
In turn, Frederick Turner speaks about the experiences of people in an environment when they were not influenced by political or governmental institutions. It seems that this approach is not quite acceptable because it disregards the values of people who promoted the American extension to the West. Overall, the frontier thesis and the germ theory can be reconciled with one another.
Overall, one can argue that Frederick Turner’s views of frontier are critical for understanding various aspects of the American history. By examining the westward extension of the American territory, researchers can better understand the development of the United States. Nevertheless, the frontier thesis cannot fully explain why the United States turned into a democracy.
Turner, Frederick. 1998. “The Significance of the Frontier in American History.” Accessed from https://sourcebooks.fordham.edu/mod/1893turner.asp