Turner thesis american exceptionalism

Critics of the notion point to Amercan slavery, our troubled civil rights history, etc. Frederick Jackson Turner remains one of the most influential historians of America's past, and his famous frontier thesis is related to the above idea, in that his basic idea is that constant contact with an open frontier for almost years of American history contributed to America's uniqueness—or exceptionalism.

Turner thesis american exceptionalism

In essence it claims that a "deliberate choice" of "freedom over tyranny" was properly made, and this was the central reason for why American society developed "successfully. With this opinion, American exceptionalism is one of many nationalist exceptionalisms. The origins of the concept and the usage of the term have changed as the the United States has changed as described below.

Many Puritans with Arminian leanings embraced a middle ground Turner thesis american exceptionalism strict predestination and a looser theology of Divine Providence.

They believed God had made a covenant with their people and had chosen them to lead the other nations of the earth. One Puritan leader, John Winthropexpressed this idea with the metaphor of a " City on a Hill " - that the Puritan community of New England should serve as a model community for the rest of the world.

Although the Protestant worldview of the United State's New England ancestors were later Turner thesis american exceptionalism with those of the Middle Colonies and the South, their deep moralistic and paternalistic values remained part of the national identity for centuries and arguably remain so today.

Although American exceptionalism is now secular in nature, a portion of it stems from America's Protestant roots. The intellectuals of the Revolution Thomas Paine 's Common Sense is the best example for the first time expressed the belief that America was not just an extension of Europe but a new land, a country of nearly unlimited potential and opportunity that was being abused by the British mother country they had outgrown.

These sentiments laid the intellectual foundations for the Revolutionary concept of American exceptionalism. The United States was often seen as exceptional because of unlimited immigration policies and the vast resources of land and land incentivization programs during much of the 19th century.

Even though those programs are for the most part in the distant past, popular attitudes within the United States often link patriotism and nationalism to them; many hold the view that the country is unique today because of what was done back then.

Turner thesis american exceptionalism

Others counter that many nations throughout history have had unlimited immigration and incentives for land exploitation until it is no longer of economic benefit. Some associate the phrase with the term Manifest Destiny which was often employed to assert a divine right to subjugate indigenous peoplesparticularly Native Americans.

Some associate the phrase with rampant materialism and consumerism. The unprecedented availability of natural resources and the drive to utilize them are the root causes of American exceptionalism for those who hold these views.

However, this fact may also be viewed as an explanation for the existence of exceptionalism. The mythology of American culture is inextricably linked to its government because the culture lacks the experience of other governmental forms.

Some argue that this linkage makes Americans more vulnerable than others to positivist propaganda about who they are and who they should be and that this linkage is a root cause of American imperialism in addition to an important cause of exceptionalist views.

These attributions made use of the residual sentiment that had originally formed to differentiate the United States from the 19th century European powers and had been applied multiple times in multiple contexts before it was used to differentiate capitalist democracies with the United States as a leader from communist nations.

In the words of President Abraham Lincoln in his Gettysburg AddressAmerica is a nation "conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal".

In this view, being American is inextricably connected with loving and defending freedom and equal opportunity. Critics argue that the U.

Turner thesis american exceptionalism

Government's policy in these conflicts was more motivated by economic or military self-interest see Zimmerman telegram and Pearl Harbor ; most observers admit both the idealistic and the self-interested motivations, to varying degrees. The United States's polity have been characterized since their inception by system of federalism and checks and balanceswhich were designed to prevent any person, faction, region, or government organ from becoming too powerful.

Some American exceptionalists argue that this system and the accompanying distrust of concentrated power prevent the United States from suffering a " tyranny of the majority ", and also that it allows citizens to live in a locality whose laws reflect that citizen's values.

A consequence of this political system is that laws can vary greatly across the country, with some states' laws being more progressive and other states' laws being more conservative than the values of the nation as a whole. For instance, the rather libertarian state of Vermont legalized homosexual civil unionsa rather progressive move, before homosexual sex was decriminalized by autocratic, not democratic action in several other more conservative states.

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Critics of American exceptionalism maintain that this system merely replaces the power of the national majority over states with power by the states over local entities. On balance, the American political system arguably allows more local dominance but prevents more national dominance than does a more unitary system.

It has traditionally had less rigid social classes than other nations, and has no system of nobility. Americans have tended to believe that a strong work ethic and personal fortitude is the key to success, rather than being born to the right family or making the right friends.

Critics argue that while America may have no formal aristocracy, one does exist in practice, and while it may have as part of its national character a myth of meritocracy, privilege and social stratification are just as strong there as anywhere else.

Critics of this position argue that these rights are not especially American features anymore, as all modern Western countries have such rights presently, and that some of these civil rights have been granted unequally or late during America's history for instance, some US states had Jim Crow laws that prevented suffrage among African-Americans until the s ; the Comstock Law criminalized speech dealing with contraception.


However, critics of this view believe that American expansion westwards in some ways was more a conquest of Native Americans than a cultivation of wilderness. The intellectuals of the Revolution, such as Thomas Painearguably shaped America into a nation fundamentally different from its European ancestry, creating modern democracy as we know it.

It ignores aspects of American history and society that contradict ideals of freedom and equality, such as slaverysegregation of schools in the South, the annexation by force of the Hawaiian islands, McCarthyismthe poverty and sometimes ghettoization of millions of citizens, the inequality of health care and education between rich and poor, and the genocide and displacement of the Native American population.

Proponents of American exceptionalism counter that these examples indeed show the failure of America to live up to its putative ideals. But actions such as these are hardly unique to American history, and that on the strength of those ideals, later generations of Americans have admitted these errors and have made attempts to redress them, through programs such as affirmative action.

A typical argument against the American exceptionalist position is to identify positive qualities in specific other countries that correspond to allegedly unique qualities of the United States.Urban Migration, Progressive Movement - Frederick Jackson Turner and the Question of American Exceptionalism.

American exceptionalism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

My Account. Frederick Jackson Turner and the Question of American Exceptionalism Essay Frederick Jackson Turner outlines the frontier thesis in his essay “The Significance of the Frontier in American History”.

He argues that. Frederick Jackson Turner (November 14, – March 14, Some criticized Turner's frontier thesis and the theme of American exceptionalism.

The disunity of the concept of the West, the similarity of American expansion to European colonialism and imperialism in the 19th century, and the realities of minority group oppression revealed the. The same may be said of American exceptionalism.

Perhaps the most original idea ever developed by an American historian was Frederick Jackson Turner’s frontier thesis, which explained the country’s supposedly unique characteristics–political democracy, self-reliant individualism–as the product of the struggle to subdue the West.

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With these words, Frederick Jackson Turner laid the foundation for modern historical study of the American West and presented a "frontier thesis" that continues to influence historical thinking.

The History Channel and the Myth of American Exceptionalism October 23, when Frederick Jackson Turner introduced his Frontier Thesis at Chicago’s famous Columbia Exposition. In his paper, Turner argued that America’s exceptionalism depended on the nation’s frontier.

Only by expanding to new lands had Americans invented their own. American Historical Association for , [Footnote in address as reprinted in Turner, The Frontier in American History, ] 1 In John C.

Calhoun represented South Carolina in .

EasyBib: Turner Frontier Thesis