American West and History

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978-0-8263-0310-3

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America's Frontier Heritage


Ray Allen Billington

The hypothesis advanced in Frederick Jackson Turner's famous 1893 essay, The Significance of the Frontier in American History, has been debated by three generations of scholars. The pioneering experience, Turner suggested, accounted for some of the distinctive characteristics of the American people: during three centuries of expansion their attitudes toward democracy, nationalism and individualism were altered, and they developed distinctively American traits, such as wastefulness, inventiveness, mobility, and a dozen more.

After opening with a summary of the appearance, acceptance, and subsequent dismissal of the theory, the author carefully defines the "frontier" and reviews recent evidence on its political, social, and economic characterstics. He discusses the compulsion to migrate and examines other behavioral patterns and traits in his explanation of how and why pioneers moved west. His extensive bibliographic notes constitute a remarkable guide to the literature of many disciplines dealing with the frontier concept.


ABOUT THE CONTRIBUTORS

Howard R. Lamar is Sterling Professor Emeritus of History at Yale and a former president of that university.

Martin Ridge is a senior research associate in the Henry E. Huntington Library. He has taught at San Diego State University, Indiana University, and the California Institute of Technology. He is the former editor of the Journal of American History and the past president of the Pacific Coast Branch of the American Historical Association and Western History Association. He is the author of numerous scholarly and review articles dealing with the American West. He is the coeditor of Histories of the American Frontier.

Martin Ridge is a senior research associate in the Henry E. Huntington Library. He has taught at San Diego State University, Indiana University, and the California Institute of Technology. He is the former editor of the Journal of American History and the past president of the Pacific Coast Branch of the American Historical Association and Western History Association. He is the author of numerous scholarly and review articles dealing with the American West. He is the coeditor of Histories of the American Frontier.

David J. Weber is The Robert and Nancy Dedman Professor of History and the Director of the Clements Center for Southwest Studies at Southern Methodist University.

Ray Allen Billington (1903-81) trained several generations of western historians and published numerous books on American frontier history, including America's Frontier Heritage (UNM Press).

ACCLAIM

"The most comprehensive book yet on the Turner hypothesis."

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Journal of American History



"A high-key, scholarly work . . . the contributions of every descipline are treated with sincere respect."

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Yale Review




6.125 x 9.25 in. 320 pages