The Changing West: An Economic Theory about Our Golden Age

The Changing West: An Economic Theory about Our Golden Age

The Changing West: An Economic Theory about Our Golden Age

The Changing West: An Economic Theory about Our Golden Age

Excerpt

This book had its inception in a series of lectures delivered at Harvard University before the Extracurricular Committee in the Department of American History. The committee, inviting me to speak, suggested that I talk about the changing West. Chewing the matter over for a month or two, it occurred to me that Americans might have to revise their theories about the old West and its mainsprings and impulses. We have been told by one group of historians that in so far as the West was unique its peculiarities arose from the fact that into the West only the brave and adventurous came for 150 years as the pioneers moved swiftly across the continent beyond the thirteen colonies. Their courage and enterprise, according to the heroic theory, gave the West its character. Another group of historians emphasize the fact that the vicissitudes of our western border life developed latent qualities in men and women--qualities of hardihood, of imagination, of capacity, initiative, industry, of thrift, prudence, and so on--that made a race of supermen on the prairies and the plains, in the mountains and on the golden slopes of the Pacific.

Certainly the constantly moving frontier, which was a hundred years going from Pittsburgh to Los Angeles . . .

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