How did the existence of a vast western frontier shape Americans' values and society?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The classic answer to this question was provided by Frederick Jackson Turner in the 1890s.  Turner argued that the existence of the frontier helped to make American values and society more individualistic and democratic.  Turner believed that people who went out to the frontier became tougher and more able to care for themselves.  He held that the experience of being constantly on the move made Americans less set in their ways and more flexible.  He argued that these influences created a society in which Americans were rugged individuals who saw one another as equals and who were ingenious and creative in finding ways to cope with adversity.

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