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and the heart of that vast world. It must not be permitted. ... Let no man at the East quiet himself and dream of lib. erty, whatever may become of the West. . . . Her destiny is our destiny." 53
With the appeal to the conscience of New England, he adds appeals to her fears lest other religious sects anticipate her own. The New England preacher and school-teacher left their mark on the West. The dread of Western emancipation from New England's political and economic control was paralleled by her fears lest the West cut loose from her religion. Commenting in 1850 on reports that settlement was rapidly extending northward in Wisconsin, the editor of the Home Missionary writes: "We scarcely know whether to rejoice or mourn over this extension of our settlements. While we sympathize in whatever tends to increase the physical resources and prosperity of our country, we can not forget that with all these dispersions into remote and still remoter corners of the land the supply of the means of grace is becoming relatively less and less." Acting in accordance with such ideas, home missions were established and Western colleges were erected. As seaboard cities like Philadelphia, New York, and Baltimore (strove for the mastery of Western trade, so the various denominations strove for the possession of the West. Thus an intellectual stream from New England sources fertilized the West. Other sections sent their missionaries; but the real struggle was between sects. The contest for power and the expansive tendency furnished to the various sects by the existence of a moving frontier must have had important results on the character of religious organization in the United States. The multiplication of rival churches in the little frontier towns had deep and lasting social effects. The religious aspects of the frontier make a chapter in our history which needs study.
88 Plea for the West (Cincinnati, 1835), pp. 11 ff.
From the conditions of frontier life came intellectual traits of profound importance. The works of travelers along each frontier from colonial days onward describe certain common traits, and these traits have, while softening down, still persisted as survivals in the place of their origin, even when a higher social organization succeeded. The result is that to the frontier the American intellect owes its striking characteristics. X That coarseness and strength combined with acuteness and inquisitiveness; that practical, inventive turn of mind, quick to find expedients; that masterful grasp of material things, lacking in the artistic but powerful to effect great ends; that restless, nervous energy; 54 that dominant individualism, working for good and for evil, and withal that buoyancy and exuberance which comes with freedom these are traits of the frontier, or traits called out elsewhere because of the existence of the frontier. Since the days when the fleet of Columbus sailed into the waters of the New World, America has been another name for opportunity, and the people of the United States have taken their tone from the incessant expansion which has not only been open but has even been forced upon them. He would be a rash prophet who should assert that the expansive character of American life has now entirely ceased. Movement has been its dominant fact, and, unless this training has no effect upon a people, the American energy will continually demand a wider field for its exercise. But never again will such gifts of free land offer themselves. For a moment, at the
54 Colonial travelers agree in remarking on the phlegmatic characteristics of the colonists. It has frequently been asked how such a people could have developed that strained nervous energy now characteristic of them. Compare Sumner, "Alexander Hamilton," p. 98, and Adams, "History of the United States," i, p. 60; ix, pp. 240, 241. The transition appears to become marked at the close of the War of 1812, a period when interest centered upon the development of the West, and the West was noted for restless energy. Grund, "Americans,” ii, ch. i.
frontier, the bonds of custom are broken and unrestraint is triumphant. There is not tabula rasa. The stubborn Ameri can environment is there with its imperious summons to accept its conditions; the inherited ways of doing things are also there; and yet, in spite of environment, and in spite of custom, each frontier did indeed furnish a new field of opportunity, a gate of escape from the bondage of the past; and freshness, and confidence, and scorn of older society, impatience of its restraints and its ideas, and indifference to its lessons, have accompanied the frontier. What the Mediterranean Sea was to the Greeks, breaking the bond of custom, offering new experiences, calling out new institutions and activities, that, and more, the ever retreating frontier has been to the United States directly, and to the nations of Europe more remotely. And now, four centuries from the discovery of America, at the end of a hundred years of life under the Constitution, the frontier has gone, and with its going has closed the first period of American history.
In the "Significance of the Frontier in American History," I took for my text the following announcement of the Superintendent of the Census of 1890:
Up to and including 1880 the country had a frontier of settlement but at present the unsettled area has been so broken into by isolated bodies of settlement that there can hardly be said to be a frontier line. In the discussion of its extent, the westward movement, etc., it cannot therefore any longer have a place in the census reports.
Two centuries prior to this announcement, in 1690, a committee of the General Court of Massachusetts recommended the Court to order what shall be the frontier and to maintain a committee to settle garrisons on the frontier with forty soldiers to each frontier town as a main guard. In the two hundred years between this official attempt to locate the Massachusetts frontier line, and the official announcement of the ending of the national frontier line, westward expansion was the most important single process in American history.
The designation "frontier town" was not, however, a new one. As early as 1645 inhabitants of Concord, Sudbury, and
1 Publications of the Colonial Society of Massachusetts, April, 1914, xvii, 250-271. Reprinted with permission of the Society.
2 Massachusetts Archives, xxxvi, p. 150.
Dedham, "being inland townes & but thinly peopled," were forbidden to remove without authority; 3 in 1669, certain towns had been the subject of legislation as "frontier towns;" " and in the period of King Philip's War there were various enactments regarding frontier towns. In the session of 1675-6 it had been proposed to build a fence of stockades or stone eight feet high from the Charles " where it is navigable" to the Concord at Billerica and thence to the Merrimac and down the river to the Bay, "by which meanes that whole tract will [be] environed, for the security & safty (vnder God) of the people, their houses, goods & cattel; from the rage & fury of the enimy." This project, however, of a kind of Roman Wall did not appeal to the frontiersmen of the time. It was a part of the antiquated ideas of defense which had been illustrated by the impossible equipment of the heavily armored soldier of the early Puritan régime whose corslets and head pieces, pikes, matchlocks, fourquettes and bandoleers, went out of use about the period of King Philip's War. The fiftyseven postures provided in the approved manual of arms for loading and firing the matchlock proved too great a handicap in the chase of the nimble savage. In this era the frontier fighter adapted himself to a more open order, and lighter equipment suggested by the Indian warrior's practice.
The settler on the outskirts of Puritan civilization took up the task of bearing the brunt of attack and pushing forward the line of advance which year after year carried American settle
8 Massachusetts Colony Records, ii, p. 122.
4 Ibid., vol. iv, pt. ii, p. 439; Massachusetts Archives, cvii, pp. 160–161. 5 See, for example, Massachusetts Colony Records, v, 79; Green, "Groton During the Indian Wars," p. 39; L. K. Mathews, " Expansion of New England," p. 58.
6 Massachusetts Archives, lxviii, pp. 174-176.
7 Osgood, "American Colonies in the Seventeenth Century, i, p. 501, and citations: cf. Publications of this Society, xii, pp. 38–39.