Discussion frontier thesis

This pattern cuts across known divides in the U. We provide suggestive evidence on the roots of frontier culture: selective migration, an adaptive advantage of self-reliance, and perceived opportunities for upward mobility through effort. Overall, our findings shed new light on the frontier's persistent legacy of rugged individualism.

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The American Frontier as State of Nature

Far fewer were produced. One important direction has been to compare and connect what happened in the American West with parallel places and processes elsewhere. The most compelling western histories written in the last quarter century confront the complexities of past and present. This begins with the recognition of how deep that past is, with histories that commence well before the West was American and with excavations that reveal the diversity and dynamism of Native America prior to the arrival of European colonizers.

From archaeological and other sources, historians have now recovered rich precolonial worlds and complex societies that continued after Indians encountered people from Europe and Africa, weaving a fascinating new understanding of how natives and newcomers met and mingled.

The Frontier in American History

Rescuing indigenous people from the condescension of New Age romanticism that turns them into ever peaceful, perfect ecologists, newer histories have shown how Indians not only resisted European colonialism, but also in some parts of North America carried out their own expansions. The best of these newer western histories detail as well how prolonged interactions resulted in ethnic crossings as well as ethnic cleansings. Most visibly, this intercourse produced mixed-race offspring, but historians have also tracked a wide range of exchanges that led to a blending of cultures.

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Such amalgamations have remained a hallmark of western American cultures in the 20th and now the 21st centuries. No doubt, many lament the changes and pine for the myths that western histories and western art once celebrated. Rather we need histories and art that respect the past, wrestling, as historians and artists must, with the complexities that challenge us still.

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Exploring the Western Frontier with the Records of Congress | National Archives

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