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The Frontier In American History

By Frederick Jackson Turner
New York
Henry Holt and Company 1921
Copyright 1920 By Frederick J. Turner

Highlighted Notes:

The Superintendent of the Census for 1890 made the following statement - "Up to and including 1880 the country had a frontier of settlement, but at present the unsettled area has been so broken into by isolated bodies of settlement that there can hardly be said to be a frontier line. 

The most significant thing about the American frontier is, that it lies at the hither edge of free land. In the census it is treated as the margin of that settlement which has a density of two or more to the square mile.

Thus the advance of the frontier has meant a steady movement away from the influence of Europe, a steady growth of independence on American lines.

In the course of the seventeenth century the frontier was advanced up the Atlantic river courses, just beyond the "fall line," and the tidewater region became the settled area. In the first half of the eighteenth century another advance occurred. Traders followed the Delaware and Shawnee Indians to the Ohio.

The end of the first quarter of the century saw the advance of the Scotch-Irish and the Palatine Germans up the Shenandoah Valley into the western part of Virginia, and along the Piedmont region of the Carolinas. 

In Pennsylvania the town of Bedfor indicated the line settlement.

The King attempted to arrest the advance by his proclamation of 1763, forbidding settlements beyond the sources of the rivers flowing into the Atlantic. In the period of the Revolution the frontier crossed the Alleghanies into Kentucky and Tennessee, and the upper waters of the Ohio were settled.

When the first census was taken in 1790, the continuopus settled area was bounded by a line which ran near the coast of Maine, and included New England except a portion of Vermont and New Hampshire, New York along the Hudson and up the Mohawk about Schenectady, eastern and southern Pennsylvania, Virginia well across the Shenandoah Valley, and the Carolinas and eastern Georgia. Beyond this region of continuous settlement were the small settled areas of Kentucky and Tennessee, and the Ohio.


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