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Limiting our attention to the Atlantic coast, we have the familiar phenomenon of the evolution of institutions in a limited area, such as the rise of representative government; the differentiation of simple colonial governments into complex organs; the progress from primitive industrial society, without division of labor, up to manufacturing civilization.But we have in addition to this a recurrence of the process of evolution in each western area reached in the process of expansion.In the case of most nations, however, the development has occurred in a limited area; and if the nation has expanded, it has met other growing peoples whom it has conquered.
She also bought “a yard and Quarter of Lase for a Cap.” Patience Hubbard saw many things that she wanted, but in the end she settled for a “pare of garters.” Her neighbor, Sarah Stone, took home a bundle of “smole trifles.” None of the purchases amounted to more than a few pennies.
Colonial American historians have understandably overlooked such trifling transactions.
This perennial rebirth, this fluidity of American life, this expansion westward with its new opportunities, its continuous touch with the simplicity of primitive society, furnish the forces dominating American character.
The true point of view in the history of this nation is not the Atlantic coast, it is the great West.
In the discussion of its extent, its westward movement, etc., it can not, therefore, any longer have a place in the census reports.” This brief official statement marks the closing of a great historic movement.
Up to our own day American history has been in a large degree the history of the colonization of the Great West.Thus American development has exhibited not merely advance along a single line, but a return to primitive conditions on a continually advancing frontier line, and a new development for that area.American social development has been continually beginning over again on the frontier.The peculiarity of American institutions is, the fact that they have been compelled to adapt themselves to the changes of an expanding people—to the changes involved in crossing a continent, in winning a wilderness, and in developing at each area of this progress out of the primitive economic and political conditions of the frontier into the complexity of city life.Said Calhoun in 1817, “We are great, and rapidly—I was about to say fearfully—growing!In this advance, the frontier is the outer edge of the wave—the meeting point between savagery and civilization.Much has been written about the frontier from the point of view of border warfare and the chase, but as a field for the serious study of the economist and the historian it has been neglected.They note that the people working in this field have abandoned not only the “imperial” approach but also other frameworks capable of incorporating these proliferating local studies into a larger, coherent interpretation of colonial society.In an attempt to promote at least middle-level generalizations, Jack P.” So saying, he touched the distinguishing feature of American life.All peoples show development; the germ theory of politics has been sufficiently emphasized.