Sunday, July 11, 2010

FJT (& JM) say the West is the best

"In the settlement of America we have to observe how European life entered the continent, and how America modified and developed that life and reacted on Europe. Too exclusive attention has been paid by institutional students to the Germanic origins, too little to the American factors. The frontier is the line of most rapid and effective Americanization. The wilderness masters the colonist. It finds him a European in dress, industries, tools, modes of travel, and thought. It takes him from the railroad car and puts him in the birch canoe. It strips off the garments of civilization and arrays him in the hunting shirt and the moccasin. It puts him in the log cabin of the Cherokee and Iroquois and runs an Indian palisade around him. Before long he has gone to planting Indian corn and plowing with a sharp stick, he shouts the war cry and takes the scalp in orthodox Indian fashion. In short, at the frontier the environment is at first too strong for the man. He must accept the conditions which it furnishes, or perish, and so he fits himself into the Indian clearings and follows the Indian trails."

Frederick Jackson Turner, 1893.

He was ridiculed at the time for making studies of the American West and the psychology of frontiering (but he didn't call it that) his express pursuit as a young scholar. It became his life's endeavor.

1 comment:

Haley said...

Great post & beautiful picture!