Turner, Frederick Jackson

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  • Frederick Jackson Turner (1861–1932) was a historian best known for his frontier thesis, which had a profound impact on the historical interpretation of the U.S. West and on U.S. history as a whole. According to Turner, U.S. development was unique compared to European development, because Americans had something that Europeans did not: a frontier experience. The frontier, according to Turner, had shaped American character and had fostered a sense of ruggedness, individualism, and equality, which had spurred on the development of an American democratic form of government. In short, the frontier had transformed settlers into Americans. Although controversial today, Turner's ideas had a great influence on scholars, politicians, and reformers in the early part of the twentieth century, and his legacy still lives on today.

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