A Book of Modern Essays

By Bruce Welker McCullough; Edwin Berry Burgum | Go to book overview

THE WEST AND AMERICAN IDEALS*

FREDERICK JACKSON TURNER

( Professor Turner has written an essay that will stimulate a whole series of reflections. He gives us a definition of the twofold function of a university. He remarks that our self-questioning, what some writers have called our "inferiority complex" as a people, is of recent growth, that historically we have acted with an unpremeditated but well-intentioned directness. But he is not primarily concerned with such questions. He reviews the history of the settlement of the west, that westward movement of the old frontier line which separated the settled country from the wilderness, of which this native of Wisconsin, long professor of history at its university, now professor emeritus at Harvard, has made himself conspicuously the historian.

This history of western settlement Professor Turner here recounts to show not simply that Americans have always been eager to explore the undiscovered but that we have done so in a spirit of sturdy individualism. Conditions now have changed. The frontier line disappeared about 1890. Where once were backwoodsmen are now slums crowded with laborers of foreign speech, unassimilated to our ideals, oppressed by the rapid growth of an industrial system. May not our individualism be crushed in the attempt to adjust our citizens to this new condition, this new and inevitable stability of population after so many decades of free movement westward? Professor Turner believes we have reached a crisis in our natural development; in meeting it he bids us hold firm to what President Coolidge has called our ideal of freedom, but which he would define somewhat more closely as

____________________
*
From The Frontier in American History. Henry Holt & Co., 1921.

-79-

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A Book of Modern Essays
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Introduction v
  • Contents ix
  • "Highbrow" and "Lowbrow" 1
  • What is a Puritan? 17
  • Portrait of a Family 45
  • The Norwegian Migration to America 63
  • The West and American Ideals 79
  • The Once Open Road 101
  • Sentimental America 113
  • Louisiana: (Madame de la Louisiane) 127
  • Fez 141
  • The Rhythm of Life 147
  • Summer 153
  • On an Unknown Country 161
  • Ideals and Day-Dreams 169
  • Castles in Spain 187
  • Science and the Faith of the Modern 201
  • On Friendship 219
  • A Relic 225
  • The Cheerful Breakfast Table 235
  • Conversation 249
  • Trivia 259
  • On Jargon 265
  • Names Practical and Poetic 285
  • The American Language 297
  • What the American Rhodes Scholar Gets from Oxford 321
  • Literary Taste 339
  • Dickens 347
  • The Vicar of Wakefield 365
  • Don Quixote 373
  • The Novel Démeublé 389
  • The Politics of Martha and of Mary 397
  • Autumn Tints in Chivalry 419
  • Index of Authors 431
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