The Comparative Approach to American History

By C. Vann Woodward | Go to book overview

6
Frontiers

RAY ALLEN BILLINGTON

To the hundreds of visitors from abroad who have recorded their impressions of the United States during the past two centuries, the Americans are a strange and inexplicable people. They are arrogantly nationalistic, and so blindly worshipful of democratic principles that they can recognize virtue in no other governmental system. They demand more economic freedom for the individual than is allotted in most urban-industrial countries. Whatever their wealth or social status, they refuse to recognize the existence of class lines or, if they do, proudly proclaim themselves in the middle class. They are forever moving about, exhibiting none of the attachment to place that lends stability to more mature societies. They are prejudiced against time-tested ways of doing things, preferring to experiment with the new when the old is still usable. They worship at the shrine of the Almighty Dollar, laboring so incessantly that the relaxing leisure enjoyed in other lands is not only avoided but scorned. They are shockingly wasteful, squandering their natural resources with an abandon incomprehensible to more frugal peoples.

That these traits are uniquely American is, of course, untrue; all are exhibited to a degree by the people of other nations. Moreover, national differences between inhabitants of industrialized nations are today rapidly disappearing; everywhere the rate of mobility is accelerating as men drift about from job to job, and

-75-

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The Comparative Approach to American History
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • The Contributors vii
  • Introduction to the New Edition xi
  • 1 - The Comparability of American History 3
  • 2 - The Colonial Phase 18
  • 3 - The Enlightenment 34
  • 4 - The Revolution 47
  • 5 - The "Newness" of the New Nation 62
  • 6 - Frontiers 75
  • 7 - Immigration 91
  • 8 - Mobility 106
  • 9 - Slavery 121
  • 10 - Civil War 135
  • 11 - Reconstruction: Ultraconservative Revolution 146
  • 12 - The Negro since Freedom 160
  • 13 - Industrialization 175
  • 14 - Urbanization 187
  • 15 - Political Parties 206
  • 16 - The Coming of Big Business 220
  • 17 - Socialism and Labor 238
  • 18 - Imperialism 253
  • 19 - Social Democracy, 1900-1918 271
  • 20 - World War I 285
  • 21 - The Great Depression 296
  • 22 - World War II 315
  • 23 - The Cold War 328
  • 24 - The Test of Comparison 346
  • Index 359
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