I think that Frederick Jackson Turner is more correct than not in suggesting that the American frontier was shaped by the characteristics of the American people as well as the nature of its institutions. Jeffery B. Flagg wrote, “Turner claimed that the traits and characteristics which include individualism, nationalism, mobility, and egalitarianism, not only deviated from the perceived standard American cultural attitudes, but eventually came to dominate the formation of the American character.”
However, I do not completely agree with Turner’s theory where he states that, “the frontier was the single most important experience in shaping American history.” I believe that there were countless experiences that led to the ‘shaping’ of the American history; such as slavery, women’s rights, The Great Depression, and The Civil War.
I do agree that individualism, nationalism, mobility, and egalitarianism had a great deal to do with the ‘shaping’ of American history, but is slavery individualism or egalitarianism? My answer is NO! Nevertheless, I do believe that experiences such as slavery helped to shape the history of America, just as any other experience had.
Our nation learns and grows from each experience, and each experience plays an important part in ‘shaping’ the American history. I will never believe that one particular experience has ever ‘shaped’ the country as Turner has expressed. I will always believe that America is the way it is today because of each individual experience.
Flagg, Jeffery B. Frederick Jackson Turner 1861-1932. http://www.bgsu.edu/departments/acs/1890s/turner/turner.html.