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Frontier Thesis Essay

1010 words - 5 pages

The Turner Thesis in the Modern United States

Despite being written over one hundred years ago, Frederick Jackson Turner’s Frontier Thesis is still valid to this very day. The main point of Turner’s Frontier Thesis is that people migrate to places of cheap land and economic opportunity. Traditionally, the cheap land was located along the Frontier where there was an abundance of resources. As the people moved westward in search of cheap resources, more settlements developed in the West. While the Frontier is no longer present in today’s America, one simply has to reinterpret Turner’s Thesis as economic opportunities and migration towards them. Because of this, Turner’s interpretation of ...view middle of the document...

Even Turner conceded this when the U.S. Census declared the closing of the American Frontier in 1890. This is the major point of contention in translating Turner’s Thesis to modern America. Without the Western Frontier, how can the Turner Thesis still be valid? The answer is quite simple. President John F. Kennedy stated that the new physical frontier lies in space – an unexplored realm with endless possibilities and resources. Because of these unclaimed resources, the Space Race propelled America into space with dreams of grandeur. Consequently, NASA is still exploring the universe as a means to locate inhabitable planets for future development; hence the competition between the United States and other countries with space exploration – mainly Russia.
Rather than interpreting Turner’s Thesis as a means of settling the West, historians need to see the development of the West as a process instead. The West is a process of economic boom, migration, economic bust – it is never ending. One of the primary arguments of Turner’s Frontier Thesis is that people flock to where economic opportunities are present and will continue to do so– this has not changed since Turner first developed his thesis. Historians need to accept that Turner’s thesis was developed due to the boom/bust cycles that were prevalent in the West. This cycle is seen even in today’s America where the Frontier is absent.
The true problem with the Turner Thesis lies in the fact that it relied so heavily upon a simplistic definition of “frontier.” The Frontier, according to Turner, was simply the land that was not settled by the American people. Because of this, Turner did not take into account that the West was inhabited by Native Americans, French explorers, and Spanish colonists. Turner simply followed a sociocentric line of thinking which helped him develop his Frontier Thesis. This sociocentric perspective applied only to the United States; Turner had no interest in cultures aside from his own. Because of this, Turner’s...

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