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Shaping the American Character

The Significance of the Frontier in American History

by Frederick Jackson Turner

More than a hundred years after it was first articulated, Frederick Jackson Turner’s “frontier thesis” remains one of the key interpretations of American history. Turner argued that the European heritage of Americans was less important in understanding the country they had made than their own experience in settling a continent. It was the circumstances of life on the frontier—in fact a succession of frontiers that moved inexorably westward—that were a determining influence on American character and institutions. Turner read this paper propounding his thesis at the meeting of the American Historical Association in Chicago, July 12, 1893, as part of the World’s Columbian Exposition. It was timely, he suggested, because the Census of 1890 had announced the closing of the frontier in the United States and thus the end of an important stage of American development.  

Shaping the American Character details:

ISBN: 978-1-937853-10-5

Words: 10,384

Pages: 23

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Tags:  frontier life - american settlers - wild west