He elaborates by stating,. In broad terms, the further west, the more American the community. He cites British attempts to stifle western emigration during the colonial era and as an example of eastern control. Every generation moved further west and became more American, more democratic, and more intolerant of hierarchy. How much do Puritan New England and the California of the transcontinental railroad really have in common?

Even the homesteader on the Western prairies found it possible to work out a similar independent destiny, although the factor of transportation made a serious and increasing impediment to the free working-out of his individual career. Retrieved from ” https: European characteristics fell by the wayside and the old country’s institutions e. And to study this advance, the men who grew up under these conditions, and the political, economic, and social results of it, is to study the really American part of our history. He must accept the conditions which it furnishes or perish, and so he fits himself into the Indian clearings and follows the Indian trails. Related concepts are the safety valve and successive frontiers.

fjt frontier thesis

Turner concludes the essay by saying that with the end of the frontier, the first period of American history has ended. It strips off ftj garments of civilization and arrays him in the hunting shirt and the moccasin.

In short, democracy has learned in the West of the United States how to deal with the problem of magnitude. The racial warfare theory was an emerging belief in the ffontier nineteenth century advocated by Theodore Roosevelt in The Winning of the West. 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.

Wikisource has original text related to this article: The most important aspect of the frontier to Turner is its effect on democracy. In short, at the frontier the environment is at first too strong for the man.


The existence of this land of opportunity has made America the goal of idealists from the days of the Pilgrim Fathers. If you want to get Turner’s ideas in his own words, he’s available on-line from University of Virginia Hypertexts.

The Turner Theses

It would be difficult to over-emphasize the importance of this training upon democracy. They adapted to the new physical, economic and political environment in certain ways—the cumulative effect of these adaptations was Americanization.

fjt frontier thesis

Although almost totally ignored at the time, Turner’s lecture eventually gained such wide distribution and influence that a contemporary scholar has called it “the single most influential piece of writing in the history of American history.

Addresses and Opinions of Franklin Delano Roosevelt p. The works of travelers along each frontier from colonial days onward describe certain common traits, and these traits have, while softening down, still persisted as survivals in the place of their origin, even when a higher social organization succeeded. He most cogently articulated this idea in “The Significance of the Frontier in American History,” which he first delivered to a gathering of historians in frontoer Chicago, then the site of the World’s Columbian Gjt, an enormous fair to mark the four-hundredth anniversary of Columbus’ voyage.

Turner saw the land frontier was ending, since the U. This conception has vitalized all American democracy, and has brought it into sharp contrasts with the democracies of history, and with those modern efforts of Europe to create an artificial democratic order by legislation.

Frontier Thesis

Slatta, “Taking Our Myths Seriously. Kolb and Hoddeson argue that during the heyday of Kennedy’s “New Frontier,” the physicists who built the Fermi Labs explicitly sought to recapture the excitement of the old frontier. The area which settlers of New England stock occupied on the prairies of northern Illinois surpassed the combined area of Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island.

And to study this advance, the men who grew up under these conditions, and the political, economic, and social results of it, is to study the really American part of our history. Thus the advance of the frontier has meant a steady movement away from the influence of Europe, a steady growth of independence on American lines. The Turner Theses The central thesis about the frontier coined by Frederick Jackson Turner, commonly called the frontier thesis, has to do with the origins of the American national character.


Slatta argues that the widespread popularization of Turner’s frontier thesis influenced popular histories, motion pictures, and novels, which characterize the West in terms of individualism, frontier violence, and rough justice. The safety valve thesis is the assertion that the frontier, as a place of opportunity and escape, defused social discontent in America. He sounded an alarming note, speculating as to what this meant for the continued dynamism of American society as the source of U.

This view dominated religious historiography for decades. Turner was born in Portage, Wisconsin, in See the following link for a short biography.

All these ideas were contained in the thewis, “The Significance of the Frontier in American History,” which Turner presented as a lecture at the Columbian Exposition in Every generation moved further west and became more American, more democratic, and more intolerant of hierarchy.

Moreover, these revisionist scholars argue, for many places the West has not been the land of freedom and opportunity that both Turnerian history and popular mythology would have us believe.

In a word, then, free lands meant free opportunities. Turner’s emphasis on the importance fontier the frontier in shaping American character influenced the interpretation found in thousands of scholarly histories. A Comprehensive Review p.

fjt frontier thesis