Now, the frontier is the line of most rapid and effective Americanization. The wilderness masters the colonist. It finds him a European in dress, industries, tools, modes of travel, and thought. It takes him from the railroad car and puts him in the birch canoe. It strips off the garments of civilization and arrays him in the hunting shirt and the moccasin. It puts him in the log cabin of the Cherokee and Iroquois and runs an Indian palisade around him. Before long he has gone to planting Indian corn and plowing with a sharp stick; he shouts the war cry and takes the scalp in orthodox Indian fashion. In short, at the frontier the environment is at first too strong for the man. He must accept the conditions which it furnishes or perish, and so he fits himself into the Indian clearings and follows the Indian trails.
Looks at the similarity between the frontier history of South Africa and the United States as seen through American historian Frederick Turner's frontier thesis. Central role of environment in determining pattern of development; Trekboers versus settlers; Fight with the natives; Appearance of...
Frederick Jackson Turner's Frontier Thesis
What, after all, is on view courtesy of Turner’s Frontier Thesis? Perhaps because his home state of Wisconsin is so heavily glaciated, Turner argued that regular exposure to wilderness on a continually receding frontier had invigorated American culture in unique ways and helped to ensure the practicality of constitutionally embedded goals like limited government and democratic procedure. Hence if one accepts this thesis one is well positioned to note instances of self-sufficiency, new forms of engaged citizenry, positive aspects to settlerism, and the universally recognized American gift for ingenuity and technological innovation. At the same time, however, the theory is to a crucial extent premised on a lie, which is that there actually is or was once such a thing as virgin nature awaiting cultural impregnation. To the extent that one assents to this lie it becomes difficult if not impossible to see displaced Hispanic and Native American residents, let alone the managed aspect to land that pioneers thought of as wild. Also, pinning the idea of the West to a stage of democratic development rather than an actual place blinds one in yet further ways, for in that case one loses the ability to assess the various ways in which geography determines culture.