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Essay about Two Different Views of American History

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Fredrick Jackson Turner and Reginald Horsman present us with two very different views of American History. Turner views the American period of expansionism across the North American continent as if this were a natural phenomenon. In contrast, Horsman begs us to consider such a perception—very seriously. Where Turner sees something like a sprit of freedom and independence driving the course of American history into the western frontier—and (coincidentally) over the peoples already living there—Horsman reveals how such a view of the American people’s ‘nature’ is constructed, ultimately to justify such expansion.
Where Turner limits their view of American history to simply what the colonists did to take over the continent, viewing their history in isolation, Horsman tries to go beyond this, showing some of the history—and racially-based ideology—which in turn influences Turner’s view of history. Let us consider these differences further, beginning with how Turner presents the expansion of the American peoples across the North American continent.
We should take careful notice of how Turner describes the role of native tribes in American history. The reason for this is that it proves to be very insightful into the kind of historical narrative that Turner presents to describe the ‘real reasons’ for why American’s expanded into the Western frontiers.
In a sense, Turner presents a kind of social-historical blindness, if not white-European- privileging bias in their analysis. One gets the impression from Turner’s analysis that the native tribes (which we refer to today as Native Americans) indeed existed. Indeed, they played an important role in American history. And yet, in reading Turner’s view, one discovers that at the sa...


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...rt of retrospective awareness of history that Horsman could, which, perhaps, might have changed Turner’s views on the essential principles of American identity. No less, we can see how Turner exemplifies a sort of blindness to the historical, social construction of Anglo Saxon identity, and how this conception was designed. We can see how Turner assumes this identity was a given fact of life, emerging on its own out of nowhere on the North American landscape which further legitimized, in Turner’s view, the expansion of American’s into the western frontier.






























Works Cited
Horsman, Reginald. Race and Manifest Destiny: The Origins of American Racial Anglo-Saxonism. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1981. Print.
Turner, Frederick J. The Significance of the Frontier in American History. Ann Arbor: University Microfilms, 1966. Print.



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