Significance Of Frontier In American History

     The expansion of the American frontier played a large part in the history and
making of the United States, but how big was that role? Historian Frederick

Turner felt that the American frontier played the largest influence on our
countryís history. Turner also believes that America as a country died over

100 years ago as published in "The Significance of the Frontier in American

History". Turner felt that when the frontier was gone, America was as well. He
also drew many factors to the rapid disappearance of the frontier and a larger
step for independence and individual rights in America: 1.) The frontier gave

Americans a new beginning. They were able to start a new life in a new place. It
also allowed many of them to erase their pasts and start with a clean slate. 2.)

America was a rapidly growing country and needed more room for all of its
energy. The timing of the expansion was impeccable to the growth of America. 3.)

Expansion made America independent in many ways. A largely visible way was
lessening its dependence on Europe for goods and supplies. As a vast population
of America moved west, European countries had a more difficult time delivering
its goods and supplies to the Pioneers. These points make Turnerís beliefs
well received. Much of the information that Turner included was so obvious once
it was said; yet it never would have caught my attention if I were to sit down
and think of reasons for the American frontier playing a significant role in
history. I found the most intriguing of Turnerís points to be that Americans
did not shape the land, the land shaped Americans. This is something that most
people would not like to hear because in a sense it is telling them that they
are not in control of their own life. Turner proved this point by acknowledging
how when the Americans moved westward, they adapted the native ways that worked
best for the region. This shows that the Americans let the land show them how to
live rather then make the land adjust to their lifestyle. Turner is claiming
that the American expansion from the frontier was one of the largest impacts in
the history of America. Although expansion of America plays a huge role in
establishing it as a country, I feel that Turner, at times, overemphasizes its
importance. Events such as the Civil War, civil rights movement and the

Revolutionary War played a much larger role in shaping America then the
expansion. Another lingering problem that I have is that this article was
written over 100 years ago, and quite frankly, things have changed. Besides
over-emphasizing the importance of the frontier in American history, Turner also
feels that it deteriorated the American government because of a strong demand
put on individualism. This is due to the fact that the article is over 100 years
old. Now, America is based on individualism. The country as a whole thrives on
it. People all over the world desire the kind of personal freedom and expression
that Americans have. In defense of Turner, the world was a different place 100
years ago and people felt differently about many things, personal expression was
one of them. In closing, Turnerís view of how America was formed was a welcome
change of pace. Itís not everyday that something this unique is brought to my
attention. His points are well made, and given the time difference, most of them
would hold true today,


Turner, Frederick Jackson. "The Significance of the Frontier in American

History." The Frontier in American History. Malabar, FL; Robert E. Krieger

Publishing Co., 1985. Original edition, 1920.