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Americans eagerly gave wide currency to Franklin's ideas.
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“frontier thesis.” The single most influential interpretation of the American past, it proposed that the distinctiveness of the United States was attributable to its long history of “westering.” Despite the fame of this monocausal interpretation, as the teacher and mentor of dozens of young historians, Turner insisted on a multicausal model of history, with a recognition of the interaction of politics, economics, culture, and geography.
The idea that the source of America's power and uniqueness was gone was a distressing concept for some intellectuals.
Some talked about overseas expansion as a new frontier; others (like John F.
His argument was that the new environment had caused a rapid evolution of social and political characteristics, thereby creating the true "American." The first settlers who arrived on the east coast in the 17th century acted and thought like Europeans.
They encountered a new environmental challenge that was quite different from what they had known.
Merle Curti, one of Turner's last students in 1944 won the Pulitzer Prize in history for The Growth of American Thought.
Curti adapted Turner's frontier thesis to intellectual history, arguing, "Because the American environment, physical and social, differed from that of Europe, Americans, confronted by different needs and problems, adapted the European intellectual heritage in their own way.
And because American life came increasingly to differ from European life, American ideas, American agencies of intellectual life, and the use made of knowledge likewise came to differ in America from their European counterparts." (p vi) His book was not so much a history of American thought as a social history of American thought, with strong attention to the social and economic forces that shaped that thought.
The legal status of women in the 19th century trans-Mississippi West has drawn the attention of numerous interpreters, whose analyses fall into three types: 1) the Turnerian Frontier Thesis, which argues that the West was, among other things, a liberating experience for women and men; 2) the reactionists, who view the West as a place of drudgery for women, who reacted unfavorably to the isolation and the work in the West; and 3) those writers who claim the West had no effect on women's lives, that it was a static, neutral frontier.