The importance of the frontier in American history is largely forgotten today but, in fact, it was essential to the forming of the America that we all grew up in.
“The Frontier Thesis is the argument, advanced by legendary historian Fredrick Jackson Turner in 1893, that American democracy was formed by the American Frontier. He stressed the process—the moving frontier line—and the impact it had on pioneers going through the process (of establishing communities and local governments). He also stressed results; especially that American democracy was the primary result, along with egalitarianism, a lack of interest in high culture, and violence.
‘American democracy was born of no theorist’s dream; it was not carried in the Sarah Constant to Virginia, nor in the Mayflower to Plymouth. It came out of the American forest, and it gained new strength each time it touched a new frontier,’ said Turner.
In the thesis, the American frontier established liberty by releasing Americans from European mindsets and eroding old, dysfunctional customs. The frontier had no need for standing armies, established churches, aristocrats or nobles, nor for landed gentry who controlled most of the land and charged heavy rents. Frontier land was free for the taking (and militias could be raised if circumstances warranted).
Turner first announced his thesis in a paper entitled “The Significance of the Frontier in American History“, delivered to the American Historical Associationin Chicago in 1893. He won very wide acclaim among historians and intellectuals. Turner elaborated on the theme in his advanced history lectures and in a series of essays published over the next 25 years, published along with his initial paper as The Frontier in American History.
Turner’s emphasis on the importance of the frontier in shaping American character influenced the interpretation found in thousands of scholarly histories. By the time Turner died in 1932, 60% of the leading history departments in the U.S. were teaching courses in frontier history along Turnerian lines.”
With the closing of the frontier near the end of the century, what I call the (millennia long) Epoch of Conquest came to an end and has remained absent from world history ever since. Of course, there have been significant attempts at conquest and some minor successes (Tibet, Crimea, etc.) and colossal failures (Nazi Germany, Imperial Japan and the Soviet Union) but two world wars and a long, shadowy Cold War have set a new standard for relations between nations, large and small.
America’s romance with the frontier literally created the motion picture industry with the cowboy/lawman/modest hero morality play of the “good guys” defeating the “bad guys” becoming the staple of the “silent movie” which transitioned well to the “talkies” and to television. American’s crossed the frontier into space and to the moon and continue to push frontiers in science and the arts. The “frontier thesis” is alive and well in the 21st Century.
American’s conquest of the continent, over aboriginal tribes that had been warring , enslaving and conquering each other for (probably) millennia as well, finally brought peace to North America.
Like any people conquered by a larger, more advanced foe, many aboriginal tribes continue to be angry and resentful. They have been unable or unwilling, in large part, to assimilate into America’s Western culture and so continue to suffer separately on reservations set aside for them by the conquering Americans. Many minority conquered groups throughout the world are similarly challenged. The Palestinians come to mind. Gambling casino set-asides are helping some tribes but many of them refuse to help less fortunate tribes.
It is interesting to note that not all aboriginal peoples in North America have resisted assimilation into America’s Western culture. The tribes of Alaska have demonstrated a desire and ability to live and thrive in both cultures and their example is compelling.
The Tsimshian people are originally from the coast of British Colombia. In 1887, an Anglican British missionary, Father William Duncan, obtained permission from the U.S. government to create a Reserve (not a reservation) in Alaska for the tribe because it had few rights in Canada. More than 800 tribal members, with all of their possessions, crossed 70 miles of open-ocean in 50 canoes to reach the reserve on Annette Island, near Ketchikan, Alaska.
There they established a community which has thrived on fishing, lumber, tourism and trade with local American communities that has brought them economic self-sufficiency. They send an inordinate number of sons and daughters to serve with distinction in the U.S. armed forces and continue to honor their benefactor, Father Duncan.
They work hard to preserve their ancient culture in custom, dance and song and have a vigorous program to pass along their language to the next generation through formal school programs that will result in the next generation having three times as many fluent speakers as the current one. They have been so successful in their desire to live prosperously in both cultures that other local tribes have joined their community, such as the Tlingit and the Aleut.
The Eskimo people are originally from Manchuria and live above the Arctic Circle. They are close neighbors with the Athabascan people, who are originally from Siberia and live just to the south. Although two distinct tribes with distinct language and customs, they have long been allies in survival in the unforgiving north.
They too are working hard to preserve their culture with language programs in schools and have successful communities throughout rural Alaska which are closely integrated with the greater Alaskan economy – benefitting, as all Alaskans do, from the booming oil industry, trade in original art and goods and tourism.
Of course, the Frontier Thesis, which I studied at the graduate level and found compelling, has fallen out of favor among the intelligentsia at the elite universities and hence, in the public-schools. However, to me the old saw rings true: “Right is right no matter who is against it and wrong is wrong no matter how many are for it.”
Continuing our history; as a result of the Spanish-American War (1898-99), the United States gained political control over Spanish possessions in Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam and the Philippines in 1898. Cuba gained total independence in 1903; the Philippines in 1947 – after civil war and conquest by Japan; Guam and Puerto Rico became U.S. territories. Puerto Rico is well on its way to becoming our 51st state.
This accretion of territory through victory in war has been labelled by many a 20th Century historian (especially American historians) as a sure sign that America is an imperialist nation. The argument fails on virtually all points. To Wit:
The Spanish-American War was foisted on the American government by the yellow press – see Hearst and Pulitzer above. Absolutely no strategic planning went into any preparation for war with Spain. In the late 1890s, U.S. public opinion was agitated by anti-Spanish propaganda led by newspaper publishers such as Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst, who used yellow journalism to call for war. The business community across the United States had just recovered from a deep depression – the “Panic of 1893”, and feared that a war would reverse the gains. They lobbied vigorously against going to war.
On February 15, 1898, the U.S. Navy cruiser, USS Maine exploded in Havana harbor, resulting in the death of about 260 of her crew. American newspapers immediately blamed Spanish treachery, and “Remember the Maine” became the rallying cry for the Spanish-American War. Later investigations concluded that the tragedy was most likely an accident caused by a fire on board the ship.
Subsequently, political pressures from the Democrat Party pushed the administration of Republican President William McKinley into a war that he had wished to avoid. Spain promised time and time again that it would reform, but never delivered. The United States sent an unrealistic ultimatum to Spain demanding that it surrender control of Cuba. The communication read in part:
“We do not want the island. The President has evidenced in every way his desire to preserve and continue friendly relations with Spain. He has kept every international obligation with fidelity. He wants an honorable peace. He has repeatedly urged the government of Spain to secure such a peace. She still has the opportunity to do it, and the President appeals to her from every consideration of justice and humanity to do it. Will she? Peace is the desired end.”
First Madrid declared war, and Washington then followed suit.
As Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Theodore Roosevelt took immediate action. Because his boss, the Secretary of the Navy, was away from the office when war erupted, Roosevelt assumed the title of Acting Secretary of the Navy and sent a telegram to Commodore George Dewey, who commanded the U.S. fleet in the Asian-Pacific. The telegram instructed him that, if war should erupt between Spain and the United States, he was to take offensive action against the Philippine Islands, which were then part of the Spanish Empire.
Dewey followed his orders. Within days after war was declared, Dewey sailed silently from Hong Kong toward Manila, and on the morning of May 1, 1898, launched a surprise attack on the Spanish fleet anchored in the bay. Within mere hours, Dewey had simultaneously captured the Philippines and demonstrated the power of the United States Navy for the very first time.
The rebirth of the United States Navy from neglect following the Civil War began, after a scathing report by the Navy’s Board of Inspection, with the 1883 authorization of the ABCD ships — USS Atlanta, USS Boston, USS Chicago, and USS Dolphin. The first three were protected open-ocean cruisers. They featured hulls made of steel, but without full armor protection.
Instead, coal bunkers were expected to provide some protection to vital interior machinery. These ships also featured a mix of propulsion systems, able to travel under sail power, or steam. The Dolphin was a smaller vessel intended to rapidly carry messages in the age before wireless communication.
The first American battleship was the USS Texas, a 2nd-class battleship. She was authorized in 1886, but not completed until 1895, rendering her somewhat obsolete. Her main armament featured a mix of 12 inch and 6 inch guns. Her two main 12-inch gun turrets were mounted along the side of the ship, staggered forward and aft.
Perhaps the most famous ship of the new Steel Navy was the protected cruiser USS Olympia. Commissioned in 1895, she was a significant upgrade over the cruisers of the ABCD ships. She served as the flagship of Commodore Dewey’s squadron in the Battle of Manila Bay during the Spanish-American War. She was modernized several times, and participated in convoy duty during World War I. In 1921, the Olympia had the honor of transporting the Unknown Soldier home from France.
Much like the Texas, the USS Maine was a 2nd-class battleship featuring staggered, side-mounted main guns. She was commissioned in 1895, and originally classified as an armored cruiser. In 1898, the Maine was dispatched to Havana to protect American interests in the midst of Cuban unrest over Spanish rule.
The dynamite cruiser Vesuvius was a short-lived experiment in weapons technology. She was commissioned in 1890, and featured three fixed gun tubes, through which projectiles were launched with compressed air. Since the guns could not be moved, the entire ship had to be aligned directly towards the target. These almost noiseless guns were used to bombard shore targets during the Spanish-American War. Ultimately, the technology demonstrated by the Vesuvius was deemed a failure, and was abandoned.
The battleship USS Oregon was one of the most successful and celebrated ships of the new Steel Navy. Commissioned in 1896, she was part of a class of battleships that also included the USS Indiana and USS Massachusetts. At the time of her commissioning, her speed, protection, and firepower made her one of the finest ships in the world.
Stationed on the West Coast at the outbreak of the Spanish-American War, she was ordered to make a historic dash around South America to reinforce the American squadron operating in the Caribbean. She steamed 14,000 miles around Cape Horn in 66 days, a voyage that was exuberantly celebrated in the media, and with songs and poems. When the Battle of Santiago finally erupted on July 3rd, the Oregon performed with distinction, leading the American fleet to an overwhelming victory over its Spanish adversary.
“The main issue of the war was Cuban independence; the ten-week war was fought in both the Caribbean and the Pacific. U.S. naval power proved decisive, allowing expeditionary forces to disembark in Cuba against a Spanish garrison already facing nationwide Cuban insurgent attacks and further wasted by yellow fever. Numerically superior Cuban, Philippine, and U.S. forces obtained the surrender of Santiago de Cuba and Manila. Madrid sued for peace with two obsolete Spanish squadrons sunk in Santiago de Cuba and Manila Bay and a third, more modern fleet recalled home to protect the Spanish coasts.
The result was the 1898 Treaty of Paris , negotiated on terms favorable to the U.S. which allowed it temporary control of Cuba and ceded ownership of Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippine islands. The cession of the Philippines involved payment of $20 million ($575,760,000 today) to Spain by the U.S. to cover infrastructure owned by Spain.
The defeat and collapse of the Spanish Empire was a profound shock to Spain’s national psyche, and provoked a thorough philosophical and artistic revaluation of Spanish society known as the “Generation of’98”. The United States gained several island possessions spanning the globe and a rancorous new debate over the wisdom of expansionism. It was one of only five U.S. wars (against a total of eleven sovereign states) to have been formally declared by Congress.”
This chapter in American history cannot fairly be described as imperialism. It was unplanned; militarily unprepared for; a strategic accident made possible by the existence of a modern, professional Navy built for defensive purposes with fewer than ten steel-hulled warships and an aggressive Roosevelt in an accidentally strategic position. There were no plans to manage any territorial gains and no capability to exploit these territories for their natural resources – which America had in abundance.
Several years after the war, America, under President Teddy Roosevelt, created Panama from part of what had been Columbia – but, by then a French territory – and established the Panama Canal Zone (originally a French proposal conceived by Frenchman Ferdinand De Lesseps, the architect of the Suez Canal) while completing the most ambitious construction project in history – the Panama Canal. The canal reverted to Panamanian control in 1999 under an agreement signed by President Jimmy Carter in September 1977.
Within the past 100 years the United States has helped win World War I (1914-1918), with allies Britain, France and Italy against the Central Powers of Europe (Germany and Austria); survived the greatest economic collapse in world history, the Great Depression (1929-1939); won World War II against Nazi Germany and the Empire of Japan (1941-1945); rebuilt Europe and Japan; won the Cold War against the Soviet Union (1946-1991); prevented Communist Chinese and Soviet domination of Southeast Asia; built the strongest economy in history and put men on the moon!
Today, with the rise of Radical Militant Islamist terrorism and the desire of its most committed members to establish a modern, yet savage, barbaric, sadistic and, in some respects pre-civilization, Caliphate in most of the historic lands of Islamic influence from the Seventh Century to the height of the Ottoman Empire, the Epoch of Conquest could begin anew.
And all of this, over all of these years, was accomplished by people just like you and me and our neighbors, each with a dream of their own and a belief that that dream can be fulfilled through hard work and the opportunity to try and, if failing, to try again and to be supported in the quest by family, friends, neighbors, church, community and country. Building a new society using old ideals – this certainly is an exceptional record for an exceptional country – our America.
Unfortunately, even the leaders of the PLDC have only a passing acquaintance with this reality.
President Obama linked gun control (not the broken mental-healthcare industry) to the June 18, 2015 Charleston, SC AME church shooting and killing of nine people, saying the nation needed to “come to grips” with the issue in the wake of the massacre that killed nine people. Speaking on television from the White House briefing room to the nation he said;
“At some point, we as a country will have to reckon with the fact that this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries.”
Oh, really? That, of course, was another colossal lie – only the latest in a list that stretches back to his 2008 campaign. In this case, the facts are readily available. Lone-wolf gunmen went on murderous rampages in: Oslo, Norway 2011 – 77 people killed; the Netherlands 2011 – 6; Belgium – 6; Germany 2009 – 15; England 2010 – 12; Baku Azerbaijan, 2009 – 12; Kanhajok, Finland 2009 – 5; Finland 2008 – 10; Tuusula, Finland, 2007 – 8; South Africa 2002 – 10; Nanterre, France 2002 – 8; Zug, Switzerland 2001 – 14; Osaka, Japan 2001 – 8; Pt. Arthur, Australia 1996 – 35; South Korea 1982 – 56.
The statistics represent more people killed in more of these lone-wolf incidents around the world than in the U.S. over the same period – many in countries with rigorously restrictive gun laws – leading to the obvious conclusion that gun laws are irrelevant to persons fixated on murder and/or beset with mental illness. In fact – irrefutable fact – every single one of the perpetrators of mass killings in the United States as far back as records go – every single one – had passed the required and rigorous federal and various State background checks required to lawfully purchase a firearm!
So, obviously, restrictive gun laws are not the solution – a commitment to real, realistic, results-oriented mental-healthcare – that protects the mentally ill and the population at-large from the mayhem that is commonplace in America today is the proper course. It is a virtual certainty that, after each of these incidents, evidence will be uncovered that demonstrated to others that the individual responsible for the killings had shown obvious signs of mental instability – obvious to non-mental health workers like family members, friends, classmates, co-workers and acquaintances. Also, a near certainty is the fact that no one wanted to confront the issue by voicing their concerns to someone who might have been able to help – because they didn’t want to offend!
Why are they afraid to offend? Because the (former) President of the United States will call them racists, or bigots or just plain haters. He did that, consistently, and his acolytes in the PLDC have taken up the battle cry themselves. Just listen to the evening news. The President even refused to call the worldwide Islamic Radical Extremists “terrorists” – which is what they call themselves – proudly.
So, why would our President say such things? To degrade the United States in the eyes of the world because he, along with most progressive/liberal/ Democrats, does not believe that we are exceptional at all – as he has specifically stated. In his mind, obviously, we are a people who have done more harm than good in the world since our founding. He has specifically spoken out about white police officers shooting black citizens on numerous occasions – while black thugs are massacring fellow blacks in unprecedented numbers.
As usual, the real issue is being ignored because it does not fit the standard progressive/ liberal/Democrat template – that white America is inherently evil when it comes to non-whites. Yet, over the past 35 years in America, an estimated 324,000 (yes – 324,000!!!) black Americans have been killed at the hands of fellow blacks, amounting to more than 93% of the total black deaths by violence. That is more deaths than the Union Army suffered in the Civil War to free black Americans from slavery. It would take all of America’s local police more than 3,375 years to kill that many black Americans. (See below)
A six-year FBI study conducted between 2007 and 2012 found that, on average, local police forces kill about 400 people every year in America. Of those, only 96, or less than 25%, involve blacks killed by white police officers. The 2007 U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics report shows the agency reported that blacks were victims of 7,999 homicides in 2005. Blacks killed by other blacks numbered 7,440 murders in that year alone.
Acknowledging the Judeo-Christian doctrine and the Constitution’s fiat that all lives are important, compared to those 7,999 victims, the 96 blacks unfortunately killed by white police officers that year amount to only 1.2% of the total violent deaths – compared to 93% of the deaths caused by other blacks – that’s 7500% more. The mantra chanted by the nation’s first black President – that blacks are being “hunted” by white police officers is a monumental lie – perpetrated and perpetuated by the PLDC.
Then again, President Obama may have been relying on one of the compromised progressive/liberal news outlets for his statistics. Consider this.
The New York Times claimed that “…there should be no disputing” a new report, which claims there were 722 gun deaths nationwide from May 2007 to February 2015 attributed to concealed permit holders that were not self-defense. The Times asserts: “The full death toll attributable to concealed carry is undoubtedly larger.” The Times was too eager, or too incompetent, to trust a report from the Violence Policy Center. A cursory Google search would have shown the Violence Policy Center (VPC) has a history of making up numbers to support their lies.
The VPC keeps a record of permit holder abuses in each state. Take the claimed worst state, Michigan. The VPC cites state police and media reports indicating that permit holders committed 277 suicides or murders during the period from 2007 through 2015 (217 suicides and 60 murders). If accurate, VPC apparently believes that 38% of all 722 deaths nationwide that the VPC attributed to permitted concealed handguns occurred in Michigan! Huh?
All in all, the VPC has managed to at least triple-count the true number of cases of permit holders killing people.
First of all, suicides are not in any meaningful way linked to the act of carrying a permitted concealed handgun outside of one’s home. The Michigan State Police reports it does not collect information on how the suicides were committed, just that permit holders committed suicide.
Interestingly, the 2013 suicide rate among Michigan permit holders (6.2 per 100,000 permit holders) is lower than the rate among the general adult population (16.59). Typically, suicides – with or without guns – take place at home. So, again, what do these numbers have to do with the concealed-carry debate?
The VPC’s murder and manslaughter statistics are just as problematic. This is how the Michigan State Police reports the number of pending cases and convictions: Total: Pending 18, Convicted 12. The VPC totals differed only slightly: 19 pending cases and 13 convictions. But the problems arise in what the VPC includes in its count.
The VPC makes what is perhaps its most inexcusable mistake by adding the “pending” and “conviction” numbers together. Convictions are obviously what should be counted. After all, some of the “pending” cases represent legitimate self-defense cases. Adding them more than doubles the supposed total number of murders. In addition, since murder cases often take years before going to trial, some of the homicides may have occurred well before 2007. If a case is pending for three years, the VPC counts that as three separate murders!
There is even more numerical nonsense. The VPC then adds in 26 cases that were reported in newspapers or other media outlets over the same years. However, either the Michigan State Police had already counted those cases in the official statistics, or the cases were never legally pursued. All in all, the VPC has managed to at least triple-count the true number of cases of permit holders killing people. Furthermore, the vast majority of these killings were suicides, or legitimate self-defense shootings.
Assume, for the sake of argument, that the VPC was accurate in claiming concealed-handgun permits were responsible for 722 deaths over almost eight years. It puts things in context when one realizes there are currently more than 12 million concealed-handgun permits in the U.S. An annual death toll of about 90 (722/8) would mean that, each year, 0.00078% of concealed-carry permit holders were responsible for a shooting death. Removing suicides from the total reduces the rate to 0.00054%.
Sort of blows a hole in the “gun nut” theory that the progressive/liberal/Democrat cabal has been pedaling, doesn’t it?
Fortunately, nothing in President Obama’s reality about white America in any way effected the exceptional nature of the American people as a whole, contributing more than $5 trillion in the past 50 years in a failed effort to eradicate poverty in America but most especially when it comes to violence against African-American citizens.
Sensationalizing the few instances of white-on-black police shootings – or mass shootings by whites in the black community – for political gain does not change the facts – it only perpetuates tensions in the nation’s black community and postpones the day when America is allowed to become truly “post-racial”.
In point of fact, the exceptional nature of the three-quarters of the American people who do not align themselves with the progressive/liberal/ Democrat cabal is even more evident when it comes to race relations. It has historically been the Democrat Party that has perpetuated the abuse of blacks in America. After all, it was the Democrat South that decided it was better to fight a war against the rest of America than allow the slaves to be set free. It was the Democrat Party that permitted and protected “Jim Crow” in the South for one-hundred years after Emancipation and it has been the Democrat Party, in control of Congress for forty years, that has led the black community into “economic slavery” by perpetually proclaiming a phony “racism” by the rest of America at every opportunity since the great civil rights battles of the 1960s – where Congressional Republicans voted in higher percentages than Democrats to pass the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act.
Because the progressive/liberal/Democrat cabal controlled government at all levels for so long, they created the myth that government was the solution to economic hardship where, in truth, the government cannot create wealth – it can only redistribute it – which is what the progressive/ liberal/Democrat cabal has tried to do and has failed miserably as we have shown. Continuing down this path will only continue to undermine that which has made America exceptional. That is truly subversive.
America’s wealth was created by our immigrant ancestors, black, brown, yellow and white together – visionaries all – builders, explorers, farmers, hunters, inventors, laborers, merchants, seamen, singers, soldiers, trappers, traders, writers – industrious, ingenious, indomitable, incomparable spirits – bustling, brave, brazen dreamers who were willing to risk – never articulated any better than by English poet Rudyard Kipling:
If you can keep your head when all about you Are losing theirs and blaming it on you, If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you, But make allowance for their doubting too; If you can wait and not be tired by waiting, Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies, Or being hated, don’t give way to hating, And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise: If you can dream—and not make dreams your master; If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim; If you can meet with Triumph and Disaste And treat those two impostors just the same; If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken, And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools: If you can make one heap of all your winnings And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss, And lose, and start again at your beginnings And never breathe a word about your loss; If you can force your heart and nerve and sine To serve your turn long after they are gone, And so hold on when there is nothing in you Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’ If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue, Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch, If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you. If all men count with you, but none too much; If you can fill the unforgiving minute With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run, Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it, And—which is more—you’ll be exceptional, my son! You’ll be American. (With sincere apologies to Kipling)
So, it is obvious that some Americans are not blessed with the “exceptional” gene, instead they are infected with the “subversive” virus. Without the progressive/ liberal/Democrat cabal, race relations in America would already be at the post-racial stage and American exceptionalism would be universal.
Finally, it is truly tragic that the first African-American President in American history – elected with more than 95% of the African-American vote –chose to, not only ignore the plight of America’s African-American community – mired in progressive/liberal poverty, families decimated by failed federal policies that glorify the dependence upon government rather than family self-sufficiency, with generations lost to the bigotry of low expectations with blame laid solely at the feet of a white America who would be thrilled to have the African-American community join the parade, but to actively encourage division among the communities through his race-baiting comments and by injecting his Justice Department into every local issue that has even the slightest of racial overtones.
By missing the historic and exceptional opportunity to heal America’s racial wounds, he was, at the very least, guilty of malpractice – perhaps of criminal negligence – and has cemented his legacy as the most pedestrian and unexceptional of Presidents who has condemned the African-American community to continued suffering at the hands of the PLDC – which is the only community that benefits from division in America. Next time: Personal Responsibility.