Frederick Turner Thesis

Frederick Turner Thesis-29
That is not to denigrate Turner: he was a great writer and promoter.

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As the quotes above show, Turner believed there was a sort of evolution, visible at Cumberland Gap: from the buffalo to the Indian to the fur-trader, cowboy, and then farmer.

He believed that the force of westward expansion forged the American character.

"The frontier thesis became the most familiar model of American history, the one learned in school, extolled by politicians, and screened each Saturday afternoon at the Bijou." So what is Turner's frontier thesis?

“The frontier is the line of most rapid and effective Americanization," Turner declared.

Turner doesn't seem to be speaking about Asian-Americans or Mexican-Americans or African-Americans, only about what we would now call Ethnic European Americans.

In 1893, Turner was worried because the 1890 census had declared the frontier closed.

“Stand at Cumberland Gap and watch the procession of civilization, marching single file – the buffalo following the trail to the salt springs, the Indian, the fur-trader and hunter, the cattle-raiser, the pioneer farmer – and the frontier has passed by....

Before Turner, many history students had memorized European monarchs.

Turner delivered his thesis lecture at the Chicago World's Fair Columbian Exposition of 1893, at one of the early meetings of the American Historical Association.

Outside the gates of this fair, Buffalo Bill re-enacted his Wild West Show, in a piece of pop-culture entertainment that was also part of the frontier myth.

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