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American Frontier

  • Date Submitted: 10/03/2012 12:07 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 47 
  • Words: 14780
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American Frontier
The American frontier comprises the geography, history, folklore, and cultural expression of life in the forward wave of American westward expansion from the original colonial settlements to the early 20th century. Enormous popular attention in the media focuses on the second half of the 19th century, a period sometimes called the Old West, or the Wild West. As defined by Hine and Faragher, "frontier history tells the story of the creation and defense of communities, the use of the land, the development of markets, and the formation of states." They explain, "It is a tale of conquest, but also one of survival, persistence, and the merging of peoples and cultures that gave birth and continuing life to America."[1] Through treaties with foreign nations and native tribes, political compromise, military conquest, establishment of law and order, building farms, ranches and towns, marking trails and digging mines, and pulling in great migrations of foreigners, the United States expanded from coast to coast fulfilling the dreams of Manifest destiny. As the American frontier passed into history, the myths of the west in fiction and film took firm hold in the imagination of Americans and foreigners alike. America is exceptional in choosing its iconic self-image. "No other nation," says David Murdoch, "has taken a time and place from its past and produced a construct of the imagination equal to America’s creation of the West."[2]

The term "West"
The frontier line--the outer line of settlement--moved steadily westward from the 1630s to the 1880s (with occasional movements north into Maine and Vermont, south into Florida, and east from California into Nevada). The "West" was always the area beyond that boundary.[3] Most often, however, the term "American West" is used for the area west of the Mississippi River during the 19th century.Thus, the Midwest and parts of the American South, though no longer considered "western," have a frontier heritage along...

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