Frederick Jackson Turner Frontier Thesis Summary

What is needed here are essays that place the question in a broader perspective.

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As indicated by the title, this volume in the series promises to address the question: Does the Frontier Make America Exceptional?

It is an issue that has engaged observers of American history for some time: the so-called "American exceptionalism" question.

Charles Beard argued that the frontier did not explain American democracy. id=3689 Copyright © 2000 by H-Net, all rights reserved.

He pointed out that democracy "came in England which has not had any frontier recently." Beard also took Turner to task for not examining class: "Strange to say he says very little indeed about the conflict between the capitalist and organized labor which has given us so many important chapters in our legislative and economic history. The tabu is almost perfect."[1] Beard's one-time protege, Louis Hacker, leveled an even more direct attack on Turner's myopia. ) lines solidified, competitive capitalism converted into monopolistic capitalism under the guidance of money power, and imperialism the ultimate destiny of the nation ... H-Net permits the redistribution and reprinting of this work for nonprofit, educational purposes, with full and accurate attribution to the author, web location, date of publication, originating list, and H-Net: Humanities & Social Sciences Online.

" No single historian has been so closely associated with the affirmative response to the exceptionalism question as Frederick Jackson Turner.

According to Turner, who presented his famous Frontier Thesis in 1893, what made the United States unique was the frontier experience, that movement of European-Americans from the East into the "open" spaces of the West.

Playing off Abigail Adams's famous exhortation to her husband to "remember the ladies," Glenda Riley makes an airtight case that "Frederick Jackson Turner Overlooked the Ladies." Students are asked to ponder the question of "Whose frontier is it?

" The strength of Riley's piece lies not in its observation that Turner excluded women from his narrative, but in her detailed analysis of why he did so.

" White's intriguing and insightful analysis compares Cody and Turner as chief architects of frontier iconography.

White points out that while the image of American Indians in these two versions of the frontier story are markedly different--for Turner they are "peripheral" and for Cody they are central to a story of conflict (52-53)--both helped in constructing a "master narrative of the West" (47) and both "erased part of the larger, and more confusing and tangled, cultural story in order to deliver up a clean, dramatic, and compelling narrative" (49).


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