As we all seek out ways to restore our country to the right path, I believe there is one area that has been neglected: culture.
In 2013, my organization The Frontier Lab is excited to continue its study of the facets of the American character–how Americans understand and relate to the tenets upon which our country was built–as well as focus on the application of these insights in ways that can help revive that same exceptional character.
The American character is under attack. Rather than a united nation devoted to the founding principles, we are told how we are different from one another, how our American character is flawed, and why the great American experiment ought to be cancelled.
The Frontier in American history was one of the greatest forces that proved the opposite was true. And it was historian Frederick Jackson Turner’s thesis in his essay “The Significance of the Frontier in American History” that provided the lens through which The Frontier Lab seeks to influence and revive the American character.
In 1890, the U.S. Census bureau declared that a contiguous Frontier line no longer existed. When Turner presented his thesis at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893, he cautioned that this force, where the American character had been forged, may be hard to replace.
Turner had found that it was the Frontier that essentially provided the heat under the “melting pot” of America. It was where ideas and philosophies met survival, and where immigrants of many different lands worked together and with the native populations to forge a new community, America. It is where we became a land of many people with one vision: freedom.
As The Frontier Lab conducts scientific market research to understand the state of the American character, it is providing a roadmap to all those who are attempting to reestablish a respect and love for freedom, individualism, faith, and hard work. In 2013, as we seek to implement those insights with direct education and outreach to Americans, we are bringing our works to the Frontier of 2013, which is culture.
Turner wrote that the most significant aspect of the Frontier was that it lies on the edge of free land, not dense population as was the case in Europe. That free land is not an easy place to exist, but rather first changes those who come into contact with it before they themselves leave their mark.
The Culture Frontier is the place in our day and age closest to the fight. It is the most exciting and invigorating landscape, and where we must pitch our tents in order to regroup in the battle for America.
If you’re interested to learn more, join The Frontier Lab in 2013 as it applies private-sector market research to understanding just how we can revive the American character.
From Turner’s essay:
Now, the frontier is the line of most rapid and effective Americanization. The wilderness masters the colonist. It finds him a European in dress, industries, tools, modes of travel, and thought. It takes him from the railroad car and puts him in the birch canoe. It strips off the garments of civilization and arrays him in the hunting shirt and the moccasin. It puts him in the log cabin of the Cherokee and Iroquois and runs an Indian palisade around him. Before long he has gone to planting Indian corn and plowing with a sharp stick; he shouts the war cry and takes the scalp in orthodox Indian fashion. In short, at the frontier the environment is at first too strong for the man. He must accept the conditions which it furnishes or perish, and so he fits himself into the Indian clearings and follows the Indian trails.
Little by little he transforms the wilderness, but the outcome is not the old Europe, not simply the development of Germanic germs, anymore than the first phenomenon was a case of reversion to the Germanic mark. The fact is, that here is a new product that is American. At first, the frontier was the Atlantic coast. It was the frontier of Europe in a very real sense. Moving westward, the frontier became more and more American. As successive terminal moraines result from successive glaciations, so each frontier leaves its traces behind it, and when it becomes a settled area the region still partakes of the frontier characteristics. Thus the advance of the frontier has meant a steady movement away from the influence of Europe, a steady growth of independence on American lines. And to study this advance, the men who grew up under these conditions, and the political, economic, and social results of it, is to study the really American part of our history.
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