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Imagining the American West
Becoming West Rough Draft Summary
William Cronon, George Miles, and Jay Gitlin closely inspect Frederick Jackson Turner’s perspective of the western frontier in America. Turners belief of the western frontier was, “One should analyze frontier and region not as isolated, alternative ways of viewing the American past but rather as phases of a single historical process. We should worry less about trying to define precisely when a frontier when a frontier ends and a region begins than about analyzing how the one moved toward the other (Turner, Becoming West).” The central focus of Turner’s point of view was that American democracy was formed by the western frontier. Turner wanted people to not just have a superficial feeling of being involved on the frontier. He wanted those that were living on the frontier to be immersed in it in order to create a regional identity. It also entailed that fact that the evoked a feeling of opportunity and a new beginning by being introduced to a new environment. It gave society the ability to propose new ideas and utilize the old ones in the process as well in order to sustain and enhance the frontier as effectively as possible.
Another point of emphasis on the part of Turner was the act of market making. Due to the capitalist market originating in Europe, it translated into the United States as well. It proved to be beneficial since it provided necessary commodities such as wheat, lumber, gold, and livestock from across the country. Turner delves deeper into the advantage of market making (trading) by saying, “Market making and species shifting thus combined to produce over ever more extensive ecological and economic change in frontier areas. Together they helped establish the boundaries within each new regional identities would gradually emerge (Turner, Becoming West).” This ultimately lead to settlers seizing the Native Americans land due to a difference of demands amongst the Europeans and the Indians. The Europeans had denied the Indians of their land by invading and putting their land on the market for newer settlers to unrightfully claim. The act of settling didn’t primarily entail peace, but rather by brute force and violence which was a way of life that everybody was accustomed to. It was a normal way of life. If you had the desire to possess anything from land or smaller commodities, ruthless violence was imperative to gaining the upper hand for claiming your desires.