frontier


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frontier,

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.

Bibliography

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).

frontier

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

Frontier

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]

frontier

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 classic literature ?
Perhaps no district throughout the wide extent of the intermediate frontiers can furnish a livelier picture of the cruelty and fierceness of the savage warfare of those periods than the country which lies between the head waters of the Hudson and the adjacent lakes.
The desire of getting out of the reach of the Galles made us press forward with great expedition, and, indeed, fear having entirely engrossed our minds, we were perhaps less sensible of all our labours and difficulties; so violent an apprehension of one danger made us look on many others with unconcern; our pains at last found some intermission at the foot of the mountains of Duan, the frontier of Abyssinia, which separates it from the country of the Moors, through which we had travelled.
Campaigns are wasted in reducing two or three frontier garrisons, to gain admittance into an enemy's country.
The arrangements that may be necessary for those angles and fractions of our territory which lie on our northwestern frontier, must be left to those whom further discoveries and experience will render more equal to the task.
Independent, or but loosely connected provinces, with separate interests, laws, governments and systems of taxation, became lumped together into one nation, with one government, one code of laws, one national class-interest, one frontier and one customs-tariff.
Far better that we save friendly bullets for ourselves at the last moment, as did those brave frontier women of my lost land, who took their own lives rather than fall into the hands of the Indian braves.
After the manner of frontier hospitality the globe round he met the newcomer at the gate, welcoming him even before he had dismounted.
And when some short holiday brought him across the frontier, and the sunlight, breaking out after a noon of rain over the dappled valleys of China, called him home, who shall blame him for lingering awhile amid his forest dreams with his fishing and the chase.
Caderousse was, like Fernand, enrolled in the army, but, being married and eight years older, he was merely sent to the frontier.
On the day that you take up your command, block the frontier passes, destroy the official tallies, and stop the passage of all emissaries.
France is large; the nearest frontier is sixty leagues distant.
In the course of it, New England suffered much injury from the French and Indians, who often came through the woods from Canada and assaulted the frontier towns.

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