Turner thesis Essay
The thesis written by Frederick Jackson Turner on the American frontier, known as the “Frontier Thesis”, is an exceptionally well-written document where the author sets out to prove that the United States’ vibrant culture and exceptional way of life, basically its uniqueness, is a direct result of the American frontier. Turner believes that without the meeting of civilization and all that goes with it, such as urbanization, and the wildness of the frontier with its untamed nature, the United States would not be as unique in terms of society and politics from Europe as it is. His theory, that vibrancy is a direct result of the civilization brought by European settlers with them to an untamed, unknown land, attributes the success of the American way of life to this very idea. Basically, without the American frontier, there would not be the United States the way it was developed and has developed.
Turner’s main evidence to support his thesis revolves around his ideas on adaptation and the basic principle that the landscape found in the New World is what compelled the formation of a new type of culture and society. Basically, Americans have had to adapt themselves to “the changes involved in crossing a continent, in winning a wilderness, and in developing at each area of this progress out of the primitive economic and political conditions of the frontier into the complexity of city life.” He feels this is why Americans, while beginning as Europeans that simply crossed an ocean to create a mirror of their own homelands, became so different from their European counterparts and why this led to a rise in independent spirits amongst the people who settled the American frontier. As Turner continues in his thesis, he writes about the westward expansion of the United States and defends his theory that the farther west settlers went, the more American the communities and the people, because it was farther from the original European concept of America and they were left to create their own truly individualistic ways of life and forms of government, creating a more fiercely independent way of life.
In the end, Turner’s thesis has proved to be an excellent historical document because not only did Turner use historical, geographical, and scientific forms of analysis to prove his argument about how the frontier is what has shaped the American way of life from the very beginning of European settlement, but it also shows how science can help in historical investigations and how common sense and impressive research can create a better understanding of history as a whole. Turner set out to prove that the United States was a product of a frontier spirit, of sorts, and he succeeds in doing so through the use of research, common sense, logic, and a basic analysis of the historical facts of American life.