Frontier

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A frontier is a political and geographical term referring to areas near or beyond a boundary
Border
Borders define geographic boundaries of political entities or legal jurisdictions, such as governments, sovereign states, federated states and other subnational entities. Some borders—such as a state's internal administrative borders, or inter-state borders within the Schengen Area—are open and...

. 'Frontier' was absorbed into English from French in the 15th century, with the meaning "borderland"--the region of a country that fronts on another country (see also marches
Marches
A march or mark refers to a border region similar to a frontier, such as the Welsh Marches, the borderland between England and Wales. During the Frankish Carolingian Dynasty, the word spread throughout Europe....

).

The use of "frontier" to mean "a region at the edge of a settled area" is a special North American development. (Compare the Australian "outback
Outback
The Outback is the vast, remote, arid area of Australia, term colloquially can refer to any lands outside the main urban areas. The term "the outback" is generally used to refer to locations that are comparatively more remote than those areas named "the bush".-Overview:The outback is home to a...

".)

Colonial North America


In the earliest days of European settlement of the Atlantic
Atlantic Ocean
The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's oceanic divisions. With a total area of about , it covers approximately 20% of the Earth's surface and about 26% of its water surface area...

 coast, the frontier was essentially any part of the forested interior of the continent lying beyond the fringe of existing settlements along the coast and the great rivers, such as the St. Lawrence
Saint Lawrence River
The Saint Lawrence is a large river flowing approximately from southwest to northeast in the middle latitudes of North America, connecting the Great Lakes with the Atlantic Ocean. It is the primary drainage conveyor of the Great Lakes Basin...

, Connecticut
Connecticut River
The Connecticut River is the largest and longest river in New England, and also an American Heritage River. It flows roughly south, starting from the Fourth Connecticut Lake in New Hampshire. After flowing through the remaining Connecticut Lakes and Lake Francis, it defines the border between the...

, Hudson
Hudson River
The Hudson is a river that flows from north to south through eastern New York. The highest official source is at Lake Tear of the Clouds, on the slopes of Mount Marcy in the Adirondack Mountains. The river itself officially begins in Henderson Lake in Newcomb, New York...

, Delaware
Delaware River
The Delaware River is a major river on the Atlantic coast of the United States.A Dutch expedition led by Henry Hudson in 1609 first mapped the river. The river was christened the South River in the New Netherland colony that followed, in contrast to the North River, as the Hudson River was then...

, Susquehanna River
Susquehanna River
The Susquehanna River is a river located in the northeastern United States. At long, it is the longest river on the American east coast that drains into the Atlantic Ocean, and with its watershed it is the 16th largest river in the United States, and the longest river in the continental United...

 and James
James River (Virginia)
The James River is a river in the U.S. state of Virginia. It is long, extending to if one includes the Jackson River, the longer of its two source tributaries. The James River drains a catchment comprising . The watershed includes about 4% open water and an area with a population of 2.5 million...

.

English, French, Spanish and Dutch patterns of expansion and settlement were quite different. Only a few thousand French migrated to Canada. These habitants settled in villages along the St. Lawrence river, building communities that remained stable for long stretches, rather than leapfrogging west the way the Americans did. Although French fur traders ranged widely through the Great Lakes and Mississippi River
Mississippi River
The Mississippi River is the largest river system in North America. Flowing entirely in the United States, this river rises in western Minnesota and meanders slowly southwards for to the Mississippi River Delta at the Gulf of Mexico. With its many tributaries, the Mississippi's watershed drains...

 watersheds, as far as the Rocky Mountains
Rocky Mountains
The Rocky Mountains are a major mountain range in western North America. The Rocky Mountains stretch more than from the northernmost part of British Columbia, in western Canada, to New Mexico, in the southwestern United States...

, they did not usually settle down. Actual French settlement in these areas was limited to a few very small villages on the lower Mississippi and in the Illinois Country
Illinois Country
The Illinois Country , also known as Upper Louisiana, was a region in what is now the Midwestern United States that was explored and settled by the French during the 17th and 18th centuries. The terms referred to the entire Upper Mississippi River watershed, though settlement was concentrated in...

. Likewise, the Dutch set up fur trading posts in the Hudson River valley, followed by large grants of land to patroons, who brought in tenant farmers that created compact, permanent villages. They did not push westward.

In contrast, the English colonies generally pursued a more systematic policy of widespread settlement of the New World, for cultivation and exploitation of the land, which required the extension of European property rights to the new continent. The typical English settlements were quite compact and small—under a square mile. Conflict with the Native Americans arose out of political issues, i.e. who would rule. Early frontier areas east of the Appalachian Mountains
Appalachian Mountains
The Appalachian Mountains #Whether the stressed vowel is or ,#Whether the "ch" is pronounced as a fricative or an affricate , and#Whether the final vowel is the monophthong or the diphthong .), often called the Appalachians, are a system of mountains in eastern North America. The Appalachians...

 included the Connecticut River
Connecticut River
The Connecticut River is the largest and longest river in New England, and also an American Heritage River. It flows roughly south, starting from the Fourth Connecticut Lake in New Hampshire. After flowing through the remaining Connecticut Lakes and Lake Francis, it defines the border between the...

 valley. The French and Indian Wars
French and Indian Wars
The French and Indian Wars is a name used in the United States for a series of conflicts lasting 74 years in North America that represented colonial events related to the European dynastic wars...

 of the 1760s resulted in a complete victory for the British, who took over the French colonial territory west of the Appalachians to the Mississippi River
Mississippi River
The Mississippi River is the largest river system in North America. Flowing entirely in the United States, this river rises in western Minnesota and meanders slowly southwards for to the Mississippi River Delta at the Gulf of Mexico. With its many tributaries, the Mississippi's watershed drains...

. Americans began moving across the Appalachians into areas such the Ohio Country and the New River Valley
New River Valley
The New River Valley is a region in the eastern United States along the New River in the Commonwealth of Virginia . The valley comprises the counties of Montgomery , Pulaski, Floyd, Giles and the independent City of Radford...

.

United States


In the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, frontier was the term applied by scholars to the transition zone where explorers, pioneers and settlers were arriving. That is, as pioneers moved into the "frontier zone", they were changed significantly by the encounter. Throughout American history, the expansion of settlement was largely from the east to the west, and thus the frontier is often identified with "the west". On the Pacific Coast, settlement moved eastward. In New England, it moved north. That is what Frederick Jackson Turner
Frederick Jackson Turner
Frederick Jackson Turner was an American historian in the early 20th century. He is best known for his essay "The Significance of the Frontier in American History", whose ideas are referred to as the Frontier Thesis. He is also known for his theories of geographical sectionalism...

 called "the significance of the frontier." For example, Turner argued that, in 1893, one change was that unlimited free land in this zone was available, and thus offered the psychological sense of unlimited opportunity. This, in turn, had many consequences such as optimism, future orientation, shedding of restraints due to land scarcity, and wastefulness of natural resources.

American frontier


Following the victory of the United States in the American Revolutionary War
American Revolutionary War
The American Revolutionary War , the American War of Independence, or simply the Revolutionary War, began as a war between the Kingdom of Great Britain and thirteen British colonies in North America, and ended in a global war between several European great powers.The war was the result of the...

 and the signing Treaty of Paris
Treaty of Paris (1783)
The Treaty of Paris, signed on September 3, 1783, ended the American Revolutionary War between Great Britain on the one hand and the United States of America and its allies on the other. The other combatant nations, France, Spain and the Dutch Republic had separate agreements; for details of...

 in 1783, the United States gained formal, if not actual, control of the British lands west of the Appalachians. Many thousands of settlers, typified by Daniel Boone
Daniel Boone
Daniel Boone was an American pioneer, explorer, and frontiersman whose frontier exploits mad']'e him one of the first folk heroes of the United States. Boone is most famous for his exploration and settlement of what is now the Commonwealth of Kentucky, which was then beyond the western borders of...

, had already reached Kentucky
Kentucky
The Commonwealth of Kentucky is a state located in the East Central United States of America. As classified by the United States Census Bureau, Kentucky is a Southern state, more specifically in the East South Central region. Kentucky is one of four U.S. states constituted as a commonwealth...

 and Tennessee
Tennessee
Tennessee is a U.S. state located in the Southeastern United States. It has a population of 6,346,105, making it the nation's 17th-largest state by population, and covers , making it the 36th-largest by total land area...

 and adjacent areas. Some areas, such as the Virginia Military District
Virginia Military District
The Virginia Military District was an approximately 4.2 million acre area of land in what is now the state of Ohio that was reserved by Virginia to use as payment for veterans of the American Revolutionary War....

 and the Connecticut Western Reserve
Connecticut Western Reserve
The Connecticut Western Reserve was land claimed by Connecticut from 1662 to 1800 in the Northwest Territory in what is now northeastern Ohio.-History:...

 (both in Ohio
Ohio
Ohio is a Midwestern state in the United States. The 34th largest state by area in the U.S.,it is the 7th‑most populous with over 11.5 million residents, containing several major American cities and seven metropolitan areas with populations of 500,000 or more.The state's capital is Columbus...

), were used by the states as rewards to veterans of the war. How to formally include these new frontier areas into the nation was an important issue in the Continental Congress of the 1780s and was partly resolved by the Northwest Ordinance
Northwest Ordinance
The Northwest Ordinance was an act of the Congress of the Confederation of the United States, passed July 13, 1787...

 (1787). The Southwest Territory
Southwest Territory
The Territory South of the River Ohio, more commonly known as the Southwest Territory, was an organized incorporated territory of the United States that existed from May 26, 1790, until June 1, 1796, when it was admitted to the United States as the State of Tennessee.The Southwest Territory was...

 saw a similar pattern of settlement pressure.

For the next century, the expansion of the nation into these areas, as well as the subsequently acquired Louisiana Purchase
Louisiana Purchase
The Louisiana Purchase was the acquisition by the United States of America of of France's claim to the territory of Louisiana in 1803. The U.S...

, Oregon Country
Oregon Country
The Oregon Country was a predominantly American term referring to a disputed ownership region of the Pacific Northwest of North America. The region was occupied by British and French Canadian fur traders from before 1810, and American settlers from the mid-1830s, with its coastal areas north from...

, and Mexican Cession
Mexican Cession
The Mexican Cession of 1848 is a historical name in the United States for the region of the present day southwestern United States that Mexico ceded to the U.S...

, attracted hundreds of thousands of settlers. The question of whether the Kansas frontier would become "slave" or "free" was a spark of the American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

. In general before 1860 Northern Democrats promoted easy land ownership and Whigs and Southern Democrats resisted. The Southerners resisted Homestead Act
Homestead Act
A homestead act is one of three United States federal laws that gave an applicant freehold title to an area called a "homestead" – typically 160 acres of undeveloped federal land west of the Mississippi River....

s because it supported the growth of a free farmer population that might oppose slavery.

When the Republican party came to power in 1860 they promoted a free land policy — notably the Homestead Act
Homestead Act
A homestead act is one of three United States federal laws that gave an applicant freehold title to an area called a "homestead" – typically 160 acres of undeveloped federal land west of the Mississippi River....

 of 1862, coupled with railroad land grants that opened cheap (but not free) lands for settlers. In 1890, the frontier line had broken up (Census maps defined the frontier line as a line beyond which the population was under 2 persons per square mile).

The popular culture impact of the frontier was enormous, in dime novel
Dime novel
Dime novel, though it has a specific meaning, has also become a catch-all term for several different forms of late 19th-century and early 20th-century U.S...

s, Wild West shows, and, after 1910, Western movies set on the frontier.

The American frontier was generally the most Western edge of settlement and typically more free-spirited in nature than the East because of its lack of social and political institutions. The idea that the frontier provided the core defining quality of the United States was elaborated by the historian Frederick Jackson Turner
Frederick Jackson Turner
Frederick Jackson Turner was an American historian in the early 20th century. He is best known for his essay "The Significance of the Frontier in American History", whose ideas are referred to as the Frontier Thesis. He is also known for his theories of geographical sectionalism...

, who built his Frontier Thesis
Frontier Thesis
The Frontier Thesis, also referred to as the Turner Thesis, is the argument advanced by historian Frederick Jackson Turner in 1893 that the origin of the distinctive egalitarian, democratic, aggressive, and innovative features of the American character has been the American frontier experience...

 in 1893 around this notion.

Canadian frontier


A Canadian
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 frontier thesis was developed by Canadian historians Harold Adams Innis and J. M. S. Careless. They emphasized the relationship between the center and periphery. Katerberg argues that "in Canada the imagined West must be understood in relation to the mythic power of the North." [Katerberg 2003] In Innis's 1930 work The Fur Trade in Canada, he expounded on what became known as the Laurentian thesis: that the most creative and major developments in Canadian history occurred in the metropolitan centers of central Canada and that the civilization of North America is the civilization of Europe. Innis considered place as critical in the development of the Canadian West and wrote of the importance of metropolitan areas, settlements, and indigenous people in the creation of markets. Turner and Innis continue to exert influence over the historiography of the American and Canadian Wests. The Quebec frontier showed little of the individualism or democracy that Turner ascribed to the American zone to the south. The Nova Scotia and Ontario frontiers were rather more democratic than the rest of Canada, but whether that was caused by the need to be self-reliant on the frontier itself or the presence of large numbers of American immigrants is debated.

The Canadian political thinker Charles Blattberg
Charles Blattberg
Charles Blattberg is a professor of political philosophy at the Université de Montréal. Blattberg grew up in Toronto and completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Toronto, where he also served as president of its Students’ Administrative Council during the 1989–90 academic...

 has argued that such events ought to be seen as part of a process in which Canadians advanced a "border"-- as distinct from a "frontier"--from east to west. According to Blattberg, a border assumes a significantly sharper contrast between the civilized and the uncivilized since, unlike with a frontier process, the civilizing force is not supposed to be shaped by that which it is civilizing. Blattberg criticizes both the frontier and border "civilizing" processes.

Canadian prairies


The pattern of settlement of the Canadian prairies began in 1896, when the American prairie states had already achieved statehood. Pioneers then headed north to the "Last Best West
Last best West
"Last Best West" was a phrase used to market the Canadian prairies to prospective immigrants. The phrase was used to advertise the Canadian west abroad, and in Eastern Canada, during the heyday of western settlement from 1896 until the start of the First World War.One of the key considerations for...

".
Before settlers began to arrive, the North West Mounted Police was dispatched to the region. When settlers began to arrive, a system of law and order was already in place and the Dakota lawlessness for which the American "Wild West" was famed did not occur in Canada. Before settlers arrived, the federal government also sent teams of negotiators to meet with the Native peoples of the region. In a series of treaties, the basis for peaceful relations was established and the long wars with the Natives that occurred in the United States largely did not spread to Canada. Like their American counterparts, the Prairie provinces supported populist and democratic movements in the early 20th century.

European Union


In the European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

, the frontier is a term used to describe the region beyond the expanding borders of the European Union. The European Union has designated the countries surrounding it as part of the European Neighbourhood. This is a region of primarily less-developed countries, many of which aspire to become part of the European Union itself. Current applicants include Turkey and many small countries in the Balkans and South Caucasus. Romania and Bulgaria joined the European Union in 2007. Proposals to admit Turkey have been debated but are now currently stalled, partly on the ground that Turkey is beyond Europe's historic frontier and it is yet to comply with the 35 point policy areas set out by the EU. If all or most East European states become members, the frontier may be the boundaries with Russia and Turkey.

See also

  • American Old West
    American Old West
    The American Old West, or the Wild West, comprises the history, geography, people, lore, and cultural expression of life in the Western United States, most often referring to the latter half of the 19th century, between the American Civil War and the end of the century...

  • Cabin Rights
    Cabin Rights
    At an early period in the settlement of the American Frontier, pioneers asserted their claims to parts of wild lands by blazing trees around the desired boundary, and later comers customarily recognized the claims: tomahawk rights, they were called...

  • Frontier Thesis
    Frontier Thesis
    The Frontier Thesis, also referred to as the Turner Thesis, is the argument advanced by historian Frederick Jackson Turner in 1893 that the origin of the distinctive egalitarian, democratic, aggressive, and innovative features of the American character has been the American frontier experience...

  • Marches
    Marches
    A march or mark refers to a border region similar to a frontier, such as the Welsh Marches, the borderland between England and Wales. During the Frankish Carolingian Dynasty, the word spread throughout Europe....

  • Final Frontier
    Final frontier
    Final Frontier may refer to:*Outer space, especially from the perspective of space colonization** "The final frontier", a description of space used in the opening narration of the science fiction TV series Star Trek...


US history

  • The Frontier In American History by Frederick Jackson Turner
  • Billington, Ray Allen.—
    • America's Frontier Heritage (1984), an analysis of the frontier experience from perspective of social sciences and historiography
    • Westward Expansion: A History of the American Frontier (1952 and later editions), the most detailed textbook, with highly detailed annotated bibliographies
    • Land of Savagery / Land of Promise: The European Image of the American Frontier in the Nineteenth Century (1981)
  • Blattberg, Charles Shall We Dance? A Patriotic Politics for Canada (2003), ch. 3, a comparison of the Canadian 'border' with the American 'frontier'
  • Hine, Robert V. and John Mack Faragher. The American West: A New Interpretive History (2000), recent textbook
  • Lamar, Howard R. ed. The New Encyclopedia of the American West (1998), 1000+ pages of articles by scholars
  • Milner, Clyde A., II ed. Major Problems in the History of the American West 2nd ed (1997), primary sources and essays by scholars
  • Nichols, Roger L. ed. American Frontier and Western Issues: An Historiographical Review (1986) essays by 14 scholars
  • Paxson, Frederic, History of the American Frontier, 1763-1893 (1924)
  • Slotkin, Richard, Regeneration Through Violence: The Mythology of the American Frontier, 1600-1860 (2000), University of Oklahoma Press

Canada

  • Blattberg, Charles Shall We Dance? A Patriotic Politics for Canada (2003), ch. 3, a comparison of the Canadian 'border' with the American 'frontier'
  • Cavell, Janice. "The Second Frontier: the North in English-Canadian Historical Writing." Canadian Historical Review 2002 83(3): 364-389. ISSN 0008-3755 Fulltext in Ebsco
  • Clarke, John. Land, Power, and Economics on the Frontier of Upper Canada. McGill-Queen's U. Press, 2001. 747 pp.
  • Colpitts, George. Game in the Garden: A Human History of Wildlife in Western Canada to 1940 U. of British Columbia Press, 2002. 216 pp.
  • Forkey, Neil S. Shaping the Upper Canadian Frontier: Environment, Society and Culture in the Trent Valley. U. of Calgary Press 2003. 164 pp.
  • Katerberg, William H. "A Northern Vision: Frontiers and the West in the Canadian and American Imagination." American Review of Canadian Studies 2003 33(4): 543-563. ISSN 0272-2011 Fulltext online at Ebsco
  • Mulvihill, Peter R.; Baker, Douglas C.; and Morrison, William R. "A Conceptual Framework for Environmental History in Canada's North." Environmental History 2001 6(4): 611-626. ISSN 1084-5453. Proposes a five-part conceptual framework for the study of environmental history in the Canadian North. The first element of the framework analyzes approaches to environmental history that are applicable to the Canadian North. The second element reviews historical forces, myths, and defining characteristics that pertain to the region. A third element of the framework tests the validity of Turner's Frontier Thesis and Creighton's Metropolitan Thesis when applied to northern Canada. The fourth element consists of an overview of major northern environmental trends. The final element consists of four interrelated themes that identify the environmental relationships between northern and southern Canada.

External links