The Frontier Thesis of Frederick Jackson Turner
- Turner thesis text
- Turner biography from The West by PBS
- Shane and the Turner Thesis from David Daly and Joel Persky, "The Western: Myth and Reality," Journal of the West, April 1990.
- The Problem of the West is Frederick Jackson Turner's 1896 Atlantic Monthly article
- Derman, Josua. "Frederick Jackson Turner and the Gospel of Wealth," Concord Review, Jan. 3, 1997
- McClintock, Thomas C. "The Turner Thesis: After Ninety Years it Still 'Lives On'," The Journal of the American West 25, July 1986, p. 75-82.
The Turner Theses
There are two good reasons for us to give serious attention to Turner's ideas. The first has to do with national history. If Turner was right, then the American national character is a product of the frontier; we talk and behave the way we do because of the frontier experience. The second reason has to do with regional history. In Turner's conception, our region, the Great Plains, is important because it was the last frontier.
If you want to get Turner's ideas in his own words, he's available on-line from University of Virginia Hypertexts.
|The Turner Theses|
|The Frontier||The frontier thesis is the assertion that the American character, including such traits as democracy and materialism, derived from the frontier experience.||"The existence of an area of free land, its continuous recession, and the advance of American settlement, explain American development."|
|The Safety Valve||The safety valve thesis is the assertion that the frontier, as a place of opportunity and escape, defused social discontent in America.||"So long as free land exists, the opportunity for a competency exists, and economic power secures political power."|
|Successive Frontiers||Turner said that in the development of any frontier area, one phase of economic and social development followed another in distinct stages. This is the concept of successive frontiers.||"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. Stand at South Pass in the Rockies a century later and see the same procession with wider intervals between."|