The exposition celebrated the four hundredth anniversary of Christopher Columbus. Turner republished his original paper, with twelve supporting articles, in the book The Frontier in American History; the second and consequent part of his theory, The Significance of Sections in American History, was published inthe year he died.
According to Turner, "American history has been in a large degree the history of the colonization of the Great West. The existence of an area of free land, its continuous recession, and the advance of American settlement westward, explain American development.
Many of Turner's arguments, however, exhibit serious shortcomings when they are examined more closely. One of the most critical is his failure to take account of the First Nations as a major player in colonial history and instead reducing their role to that of mere resistance to English settlement.
He also brushes aside the importance of the fur trade, even though it was a catalyst for intense commercial rivalry for the New England colonies, New France, and the Indians themselves. Finally, Turner's characterization of the frontier as a purely western and English phenomenon completely ignores the frontier faced by the French colonists on their western and southern borders, as well as the northern frontier of English colonies like New York and Massachusetts.
Turner's dismissal of the First Nations as an important element in early American history is never explicitly stated. Instead he uses vague terms such as "savagery" and "Indian country" that add subtle support to his assertion that settlers were moving into "free land," land presumably free of other people.
In reality, the land was anything but free when the Pilgrims and Puritans arrived in the s and s, and by Massachusetts had already fought its first major war with the land's non-existent inhabitants.
Both empires forged alliances with the various tribes and enlisted their warriors to take part in a long series of colonial wars that ended only with the American Revolution.
The French, for instance, established a longstanding alliance with the Abenakis, who used their position south of the Saint Lawrence River to launch devastating attacks on New England towns and settlements.
They also gained numerous allies in the Ohio Valley and the Great Lakes region, who were sufficiently powerful to push English settlement back over the Appalachians and thereby reverse the "continuous recession" of the frontier. An ally of England since the expulsion of the Dutch from what is now New York, the Iroquois had engaged in a long series of wars with France and its Indian allies.
In the French finally made peace with the League as part of a diplomatic maneuver to prepare for an imminent war with England, giving the Iroquois the right "to come to Montreal to obtain your necessities and the right to hunt without being disturbed by the Savages allies of Onnontio [the French King].
It was Iroquois Mohawks who lent important military aid to Massachusetts after the outbreak of Metacom's Waras a result of which local Indian resistance to English rule dissipated. In the following century the Iroquois also acted as a vehicle by which English authority could be extended over France's former Indian allies in the Ohio Valley.
With the Iroquois having been recognized by the Treaty of Utrecht as subjects of the British Crown, the alliance gave England the opportunity to convert traditional Iroquois authority over First Nations such as the Delawares into acknowledgement of English sovereignty over Indian lands.
However, Turner downplays the importance of the trade, seeing it as only as a momentary phase in the development of the English colonies. He even goes so far as to argue that "French colonization was dominated by its trading frontier; English colonization by its farming frontier.
After conquering New Netherlands, the English continued what the Dutch had started, thereby making the fur trade into one of the most important elements of New York's colonial economy. Even as late as the midth century, New York and its southern rival, Pennsylvania, considered the fur trade important enough to make determined efforts to direct the trade into their respective territories.
They did so because of the need to make their colonies financially profitable, a goal that made farming less of an economic priority then the acquisition of a lucrative commodity like furs.
Thus the Plymouth colonists began trading in furs from the Abenakis within five years of the establishment of their settlement and set up the so-called "Undertakers" to carry out the trade.
Turner's characterization of the fur trade as a purely French activity can therefore be seen to be highly inaccurate. In Turner's thesis, the American frontier is portrayed as the line between settled and Indian lands, which runs roughly north to south and which continually recedes westward.
Apart from his self-contradicting idea of Indian lands being unsettled yet inhabited, Turner greatly oversimplifies the character of the frontier in several important ways. There were actually at least three frontiers that played a critical role in American history. While it is true that one frontier line ran from the north to the south, the New England colonies had a northern frontier running from east to west.
It was across this frontier that French troops and their Indian allies put pressure on colonial Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New York throughout the 17th and 18th centuries, which ended only with the defeat of France in the Seven Years War.
English settlement along this frontier was uncertain at best, and Indians like the Abenakis used their alliance with the French to restrain England's land-hungry colonists.
Far from receding, this frontier remained a permanent feature of New England until the s. The southern border, of course, brushed against the New England colonies, but the western frontier lay against the territories making up the Iroquois League. As England's main Indian ally, the Iroquois posed a unique threat to New France, and the French felt obliged to try to neutralize Iroquois military power during much of the 17th century.
Doing so necessarily involved going to war with the English as well, and the course of these wars helped shape the development of all the European colonies, both French and English.
The most enduring frontier was one that Turner's thesis never addresses - the cultural frontier between Europeans and the First Nations. This frontier lingered on long after its geographical counterparts in the colonies had vanished, and in some cases it hardened into deep-seated animosity.
This could be seen in Massachusetts during Metacom's War, when colonial authorities detained its loyal Christian Indians for fear that they would follow the example of other "praying Indians" by joining the forces led by Metacom.Moos () shows that the s to s black filmmaker and novelist Oscar Micheaux incorporated Turner's frontier thesis into his work.
Micheaux promoted the West as a place where blacks could transcend race and earn economic success through hard work and perseverance. Turner discusses three stages or waves of frontier settlement in his thesis.
The first wave he refers to as the pioneers. These are the settlers who simply found a piece of land to live on.
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. Turner Thesis Summary Throughout history society has to go through many changes that not only affect many of the people but also the areas around the transformation.
Frederick Turner Jackson: Frontier Thesis Research Paper Benjamin Farhi 5/1/13 Band D East to West Frederick Turner Jackson, born in , in Portage, Wisconsin, grew up in a time of severe social change, in a nation plagued with an identity crisis.
Frederick Jackson Turner, (born November 14, , Portage, Wisconsin, U.S.—died March 14, , San Marino, California), American historian best known for the “frontier thesis.” The single most influential interpretation of the American past, it proposed that the distinctiveness of the United.