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Frederick Jackson Turner presented an essay entitled, “The Significance of the Frontier in American History” in 1893 at the Chicago World’s Fair. He argued that all the characteristics that the world associated with the American national character were forged on the western frontier, and that it was the west, not the east, that truly dictated the course of American history. He went on to say that as pioneers went west, they abandon European practices in favor of self-discovered methods developed on the frontier.
His ideas were an instant hit. They were devoured by academics and debated in most major universities, but they also alarmed many people as well. With the 1890 census declaring he American Frontier closed, it was clear that a new chapter in our history was beginning. Many people continued his work by looking towards the possibilities of further colonization in the Pacific, but Turner’s work didn’t mention anything like this, instead concentrating on republicanism rather than territorial acquisition.
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