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Amid the uncertainty in the use of terms, there remains the simple fact that the history of the United States, up to the beginning of the 20th century, was that of a people moving steadily toward the occupation of a vast continent.


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This involved not only recurring physical advances into new geographic basins where life had to be lived on simple elemental levels for a time but also constant social evolution from a simple hunting-trading stage to varying degrees of urban complexity and interdependence. For three centuries some Americans were leaving the older settlements and beginning over again on the frontier.

For the same length of time, those who lived in what had become old and established centres were conscious of the fact that there remained an open door to lands that were ostensibly unclaimed, where place and fortune were yet to be won.

The Frontier in American History

As a reality for some and as a symbol for others, the frontier became a vital factor in shaping American life and American character. They began the conquest of the wilderness; they took the first steps in crossing the continent; they became Americans. This, however, was only the beginning. Scarcely had the colonies themselves become firmly established before the western push began anew.

Out from old centres, the dissatisfied, the restless, the adventurous made their way into the backcountry.


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There they encountered long-established Native American populations, sometimes coexisting with them, sometimes forcing them into open resistance but ultimate retreat. Well before the American Revolution they had brought a new west into being: in upper New England , in the Mohawk River valley, in the great valley of Pennsylvania and above the fall line and out into the ridges and valleys of the south. In spite of the limitations placed on expansion by the Proclamation of , already a few settlers had crossed the mountains and opened the way for an even greater west.

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With the Peace of Paris , Britain ceded the lands east of the Mississippi to the newly independent United States, but it maintained a system of strategic forts throughout the region. The issuance of the Northwest Ordinances , , and fueled a wave of migration to the Midwest. Native American tribes, seeing their hunting grounds reduced by the encroachment of white settlers in the Northwest Territory , gathered under the banner of the Northwest Indian Confederation. In they delivered a stunning defeat to an American military expedition that had been sent to pacify the region.

American frontier

George Washington dispatched Gen. Anthony Wayne and a much larger force to the region, and the Americans effectively crushed the confederation at the Battle of Fallen Timbers With the subsequent Treaty of Greenville , the confederation ceded a large swath of the Great Lakes region to the Americans. Nevertheless, native peoples had demonstrated that they would not submit passively to the expansion of the frontier into their lands. Where the content of the eBook requires a specific layout, or contains maths or other special characters, the eBook will be available in PDF PBK format, which cannot be reflowed.

How The Frontier Shaped The American Character | AMERICAN HERITAGE

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Description Frederick Jackson Turner's essay on the history of the United States remains one of the most famous and influential works in the American canon. Offline Computer — Download Bookshelf software to your desktop so you can view your eBooks with or without Internet access. View Cart.