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The existence of an area of free land, its continuous recession, and the advance of American settlement westward explain American development.” (The Frontier in American History, Turner, p.1.) Jackson believed that westward expansion allowed America to move away from the influence of Europe and gain “independence on American lines.” (Turner, p.
Many Americans were concerned that American freedom would be diminished by the end of colonization of the West.
Not only did his thesis give voice to these Americans’ concerns, but it also represented how Americans wanted to see themselves.
Unfortunately, the history of the American West became the history of westward expansion and the history of the region of the American West was disregarded.
The grand tapestry of western history was essentially ignored.
Additionally, many people who lived on the “frontier” were not part of his thesis because they did not fit his model of the democratizing American.
The closing of the frontier in 1890 by the Superintendent of the census prompted Turner’s thesis.Despite its faults, his thesis proved powerful because it succinctly summed up the concerns of Turner and his contemporaries.More importantly, it created an appealing grand narrative for American history.In 1984, colonial historian James Henretta even stated, “[f]or, in our role as scholars, we must recognize that the subject of westward expansion in itself longer engages the attention of many perhaps most, historians of the United States.” (Legacy of Conquest, Patricia Limerick, p.21.) Turner’s thesis had effectively shaped popular opinion and historical scholarship of the American West, but the thesis slowed continued academic interest in the field.xvii.) Pascoe used a study of intercultural relations between women to better understand each of the sub-cultures (missionaries, unmarried mothers, Chinese prostitutes, Mormon women, and Sioux women) and their relations with governmental authorities and men.Unlike Limerick, Pascoe did not find it necessary to define the west or the frontier.In Legacy of Conquest, she attempted to synthesize the scholarship on the West to that point and provide a new approach for re-examining the West.First, she asked historians to think of the America West as a place and not as a movement.Even before Limerick’s manifesto, scholars were re-evaluating the west and its people, and its pace has only quickened.Whether or not scholars agree with Limerick, they have explored new depths of Western American history.