1	          October 1993
     3	          The Destiny of the West was Social Rather
     4	          than Individual -- The American Frontier
     5	          Experience as Described by Frederick Jackson
     6	          Turner
     8	               ..........edited by Marijan Salopek
    10	                     =======================
    11	                             EXTRACT
    13	Frederick Jackson Turner, .
    15	     The last chapter in the development of Western democracy is
    16	the one that deals with its conquest over the vast spaces of the
    17	new West.  At each new stage of Western development, the people
    18	have had to grapple with larger areas, with bigger combinations. 
    19	The little colony of Massachusetts veterans that settled at
    20	Marietta received a land grant as large as the State of Rhode
    21	Island.  The band of Connecticut pioneers that followed Moses
    22	Cleveland to the Connecticut Reserve occupied a region as large
    23	as the parent State.  The area which settlers of New England
    24	stock occupied on the prairies of northern Illinois surpassed the
    25	combined area of Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. 
    26	Men who had become accustomed to the narrow valleys and little
    27	towns of the East found themselves out on the boundless spaces of
    28	the West dealing with units of such magnitude as dwarfed their
    29	former experiences.  The Great Lakes, the Prairies, the Great
    30	Plains, the Rocky Mountains, the Mississippi and the Missouri,
    31	furnished new standards of measurement for the achievement of
    32	this industrial democracy.  Individualism began to give way to
    33	cooperation and to governmental activity.  Even in the earlier
    34	days of the democratic conquest of the wilderness, demands had
    35	been made upon the government for support in internal
    36	improvements, but this new West showed a growing tendency to call
    37	to its assistance the powerful arm of national authority.  In the
    38	period since the Civil War, the vast public domain has been
    39	donated to the individual farmer, to States for education, to
    40	railroads for the construction of transportation lines.
    41	     Moreover, with the advent of democracy in the last fifteen
    42	years upon the Great Plains, new physical conditions have
    43	presented themselves which have accelerated the social tendency
    44	of Western democracy.  The pioneer farmer of the days of Lincoln
    45	could place his family on a flatboat, strike into the wilderness,
    46	cut out his clearing, and with little or no capital go on to the
    47	achievement of industrial independence.  Even the homesteader on
    48	the Western prairies found it possible to work out a similar
    49	independent destiny, although the factor of transportation made a
    50	serious and increasing impediment to the free working-out of his
    51	individual career.  But when the arid lands and the mineral
    52	resources of the Far West were reached, no conquest was possible
    53	by the old individual pioneer methods.  Here expensive irrigation
    54	works must be constructed, cooperative activity was demanded in
    55	the utilization of the water supply, capital beyond the reach of
    56	the small farmer was required.  In a word, the physiographic
    57	province itself decreed that the destiny of this new frontier
    58	should be social rather than individual.
    59	     Magnitude of social achievement is the watchword of the
    60	democracy since the Civil War.  From petty towns built in the
    61	marshes, cities arose whose greatness and industrial power are
    62	the wonder of our time.  The conditions were ideal for the
    63	production of captains of industry.  The old democratic
    64	admiration for the self-made man, its old deference to the rights
    65	of competitive individual development, together with the
    66	stupendous natural resources that opened to the conquest of the
    67	keenest and the strongest, gave such conditions of mobility as
    68	enabled the development of the large corporate industries which
    69	in our own decade have marked the West.
    70	     Thus, in brief, have been outlined the chief phases of the
    71	development of Western democracy in the different areas which it
    72	has conquered.  There has been a steady development of the
    73	industrial ideal, and a steady increase of the social tendency,
    74	in this later movement of Western democracy.  While the
    75	individualism of the frontier, so prominent in the earliest days
    76	of the Western advance, has been preserved as an ideal, more and
    77	more these individuals struggling each with the other, dealing
    78	with vaster and vaster areas, with larger and larger problems,
    79	have found it necessary to combine under the leadership of the
    80	strongest.  This is the explanation of the rise of those
    81	preeminent captains of industry whose genius has concentrated
    82	capital to control the fundamental resources of the nation.  If
    83	now in the way of recapitulation, we try to pick out from the
    84	influences that have gone to the making of Western democracy the
    85	factors which constitute the net result of this movement, we
    86	shall have to mention at least the following:--
    87	     Most important of all has been the fact that an area of free
    88	land has continually lain on the western border of the settled
    89	area of the United States.  Whenever social conditions tended to
    90	crystallize in the East, whenever capital tended to press upon
    91	labor or political restraints to impede the freedom of the mass,
    92	there was this gate of escape to the free conditions of the
    93	frontier.  These free lands promoted individualism, economic
    94	equality, freedom to rise, democracy.  Men would not accept
    95	inferior wages and a permanent position of social subordination
    96	when this promised land of freedom and equality was theirs for
    97	the taking.  Who would rest content under oppressive legislative
    98	conditions when with a slight effort he might reach a land
    99	wherein to become a co-worker in the building of free cities and
   100	free States on the lines of his own ideal?  In a word, then, free
   101	lands meant free opportunities.  Their existence has
   102	differentiated the American democracy from the democracies which
   103	have preceded it, because ever, as democracy in the East took the
   104	form of highly specialized and complicated industrial society, in
   105	the West it kept in touch with primitive conditions, and by
   106	action and reaction these two forces have shaped our history.
   107	     In the next place, these free lands and this treasury of
   108	industrial resources have existed over such vast spaces that they
   109	have demanded of democracy increasing spaciousness of design and
   110	power of execution.  Western democracy is contrasted with the
   111	democracy of all other times in the largeness of the tasks to
   112	which it has set its hand, and in the vast achievements which it
   113	has wrought out in the control of nature and of politics.  It
   114	would be difficult to over-emphasize the importance of this
   115	training upon democracy.  Never before in the history o the world
   116	has democracy existed on so vast an area and handled things in
   117	the gross with such success, with such largeness of design, and
   118	such grasp upon the means of execution.  In short, democracy has
   119	learned in the West of the United States how to deal with the
   120	problems of magnitude.  The old historic democracies were but
   121	little states with primitive economic conditions....
   122	     Western democracy has been from the time of its birth
   123	idealistic.  The very fact of the wilderness appealed to men as a
   124	fair, blank page on which to write a new chapter in the story of
   125	man's struggle for a higher type of society.  The Western wilds,
   126	from the Alleghanies to the Pacific, constituted the richest free
   127	gift that was ever spread out before civilized man.  To the
   128	peasant and artisan of the Old World, bound by the chains of
   129	social class, as old as custom and as inevitable as fate, the
   130	West offered an exit into a free life and greater well-being
   131	among the bounties of nature, into the midst of resources that
   132	demanded manly exertion, and that gave in return the chance for
   133	indefinite ascent in the scale of social advance.  "To each she
   134	offered gifts after his will".  Never again can such an
   135	opportunity come to the sons of men.  It was unique, and the
   136	thing is so near us, so much a part of our lives, that we do not
   137	even yet comprehend its full significance.  The existence of this
   138	land of opportunity has made America the goal of idealists from
   139	the days of the Pilgrim Fathers.  With all the materialism of the
   140	pioneer movements, this idealistic conception of the vacant lands
   141	as an opportunity for a new order of things is unmistakably
   142	present....
   144	Source:
   145	     Frederick Jackson Turner, 
   146	(New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1920, 1947; reprinted by Holt,
   147	Rinehart and Winston Inc., 1962),  pp. 257-262.
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