The Significance of the Frontier in American History

by Frederick Jackson Turner
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In what ways did the West provide a "safety valve" for the problems in the industrial East?

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The Western frontier provided a safety valve to prevent forms of class conflict among white people who were not able to succeed economically. People who were not thriving economically in the East believed that they could get a fresh start in the West. To some degree, the federal government helped Western settlers, through regulations such as the Homestead Act, which provided people with land if they settled on it for several years.

The idea that people could get a fresh start and meet with success in the West was at times misleading, however. Many parts of the West, such as the prairie land of the Dakotas, were often subject to drought, and the soil was too thin and arid to provide for long-term settlement of farmers. However, the idea of the West quelled class conflict in the East at times.

According to Turner, the West presented an opportunity for the people to pursue their prosperity because of the available land. The West provided a vent for the social, economic, cultural and...

(The entire section contains 4 answers and 665 words.)

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