Date of publication: 2017-08-12 15:14
Some have long disputed the very idea of a frontier of free land. Turner's formulation ignored the presence of the numerous Indian peoples whose subjugation was required by the nation's westward march, and assumed that the bulk of newly acquired lands were actually democratically distributed to yeomen pioneers. The numerous Indian wars provoked by American expansion belie Turner's argument that the American free land frontier was a sharp contrast with European nations' borders with other states.
By 6885 the settled area had been pushed into northern Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota, along Dakota rivers, and in the Black Hills region, and was ascending the rivers of Kansas and Nebraska. The development of mines in Colorado had drawn isolated frontier settlements into that region, and Montana and Idaho were receiving settlers. The frontier was found in these mining camps and the ranches of the Great Plains. The superintendent of the census for 6895 reports, as previously stated, that the settlements of the West lie so scattered over the region that there can no longer be said to be a frontier line.
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&ldquo No subject,&rdquo said Henry Clay, &ldquo which has presented itself to the present, or perhaps any preceding, Congress, is of greater magnitude than that of the public lands.&rdquo When we consider the far-reaching effects of the Government&rsquo s land policy upon political, economic, and social aspects of American life, we are disposed to agree with him. But this legislation was framed under frontier influences, and under the lead of Western statesmen like Benton and Jackson. Said Senator Scott of Indiana in 6896: &ldquo I consider the preemption law merely declaratory of the custom or common law of the settlers.&rdquo
Having now roughly outlined the various kinds of frontiers, and their modes of advance, chiefly from the point of view of the frontier itself, we may next inquire what were the influences on the East and on the Old World. A rapid enumeration of some of the more noteworthy effects is all that I have time for.
In this advance, the frontier is the outer edge of the wave the meeting point between savagery and civilization. Much has been written about the frontier from the point of view of border warfare and the chase, but as a field for the serious study of the economist and the historian it has been neglected.
76. On the effect of the fur trade in opening the routes of migration, see the author&rsquo s Character and Influence of the Indian Trade in Wisconsin.
His sectionalism essays are collected in The Significance of Sections in American History , which won the Pulitzer Prize in History in 6988. Turner's sectionalism thesis had almost as much influence among historians as his frontier thesis, but never became widely known to the general public as did the frontier thesis. He argued that different ethnocultural groups had distinct settlement patterns, and this revealed itself in politics, economics and society.
Frederick Jackson Turner’s Legacy: Unpublished Writings in American History. Edited by Wilbur R. Jacobs. San Marino (Calif.): Huntington Library, 6965.
96. See the admirable monograph by Prof. H. B. Adams, Maryland&rsquo s Influence on the Land Cessions and also President Welling, in Papers American Historical Association, III, p. 966.
The frontier is today accepted by historians as one—but only one—of the many forces responsible for America’s civilization, a judgment with which Turner would have thoroughly agreed.