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in U.S. history, the border area of settlement of Europeans and their descendants; it was vital in the conquest of the land between the Atlantic and the Pacific. The importance of the westward movement of the population and the lure of the frontier were clear even to colonial writers and early U.S. historians, but the theory that the frontier was a governing factor (if not the governing factor) in developing a distinctive U.S. civilization was not formulated until 1893, when Frederick Jackson TurnerTurner, Frederick Jackson,
1861–1932, American historian, b. Portage, Wis. He taught at the Univ. of Wisconsin from 1885 to 1910 except for a year spent in graduate study at Johns Hopkins.
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 presented his thesis.

Basically, Turner held that American democracy was shaped by the frontier, namely by the contest of the settler with the wilderness of the frontier. There the settler learned self-reliance, judged others by their abilities, strove to improve his or her lot, and grew distrustful of external authority and formal institutions. In short, the frontier molded an American national character that was individualistic and egalitarian. Turner's work stimulated a tremendous amount of research and writing on the history and meaning of the frontier.

There is no question that the process of peopling the West is a central theme in U.S. history, although not, perhaps, for the reasons Turner suggested. The cultivation of frontier lands provided food for the growing number of workers in Eastern cities; its mineral wealth and other natural resources aided industrialization; and the need to keep the East and West united led to a complex and efficient national system of transportation and communication. At the same time, the existence of barely settled lands helped preserve a rural tinge to America well into the 20th cent. Many studies have been devoted to the fur trade frontier, the mining frontier, the grazing frontier, and other types of frontier, but emphasis has been to a large extent on the solid achievements of the farming frontier and on the central United States.


See F. J. Turner, The Frontier in American History (1920); F. L. Paxson, History of the American Frontier (1924); W. P. Webb, The Great Plains (1931) and The Great Frontier (1952); R. A. Billington and J. B. Hedges, Westward Expansion (1949); H. N. Smith, Virgin Land (1950); L. B. Wright, Culture on the Moving Frontier (1955); R. A. Bartlett, Great Surveys of the American West (1980); R. V. Hine, Community on the American Frontier (1985); P. M. Nelson, After the West Was Won (1989).


[frən′tir əv ə ′set]
For a set in a topological space, all points in the closure of the set but not in its interior. Also known as boundary.


Boone, Daniel
(1734–1820) American frontiersman in coonskin cap. [Am. Hist.: Hart, 90]
Bowie, Jim
(1799–1836) frontiersman and U.S. soldier; developed large hunting knife named after him. [Am. Hist.: Payton, 95]
Bumppo, Natty
also known as Leatherstocking, a tough back-woodsman. [Am. Lit.: Deerslayer; Pathfinder]
California Joe
(Moses Embree Milner, 1829–1876) frontiersman and scout. [Am. Hist.: NCE, 424]
Virginian, The
up-and-coming cowpuncher defends his honor, espouses justice, and gains responsibility and a bride. [Am. Lit.: The Virginian in Magill I, 1072]


a. the region of a country bordering on another or a line, barrier, etc., marking such a boundary
b. (as modifier): a frontier post
References in periodicals archive ?
The success of Malick's resurrection of the virgin land myth depends on his deft deployment of imperialist nostalgia, a specific emotional economy first identified and described by American anthropologist Renato Rosaldo in 1989.
Unlike virgin land, these properties are either currently serving a useful purpose or they did so at one time.
If the North had compromised with the secessionist states, he wrote, the South's peculiar institution would have been pushed by the barrel of a gun into Mexico and Central America as cotton growers acquired the virgin land necessary for further production.
One study, by scientists at Princeton University and the Woods Hole Research Center, measured the effects of converting virgin land for biofuel production.
In the meantime, the gist of it is that ( with the aid of pigs and goats, and starting with a pick, spade and fork ( I cleared about six acres of virgin land that had never, ever grown a crop other than timber.
single storey structure on virgin land at the entrance of the San Antonio village, Toledo District, Belize.
Virgin land is a recent concept, and a problematic one.
It's not too bad if the plot was deeply and roughly dug beforehand, but on virgin land you're wasting your time
Even though the idea of using manure to make soil more fertile is an ancient concept, early American farmers, reveling in the rich and abundant virgin land, were slow to take advantage of it.
He said: 'We'll do whatever it takes to defend this virgin land.
Zine said there's a demand for both schools and homes in the Valley and that the West Hills project is compatible with its surroundings, unlike other developments that convert virgin land into homes and buildings.

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